October 28, 2011

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Hi there!  Terrible blogger here.  I have missed you guys, but honestly leaving DC after work on Fridays and not getting back to DC until Sunday night made it really hard for me to keep up with this.  We kept cooking and eating and running over here, but at the end of the evening, after the dishes were done and the laundry was done and lunches were made, I just did not have the desire to sit down and rehash it.  I have the beginnings of a few posts on meals we've cooked over here, but first I thought I'd fill you in on what has been taking up most of my energy the past month: being a jetsetter! Sort of. If taking the Megabus to NYC qualifies as "jetsetting."

So, without further ado, a somewhat brief recap on my adventures of late.

1. We went to NYC. It was awesome.  Among other things I: ate at an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant the length of a city block; walked across the Brooklyn Bridge; had Tasti-D-Lite for the first time (verdict: yummy, but Frozen Yo is better); had a lengua taco (verdict: not a fan); and...saw NEWSIES!! I have loved that movie since I was a little girl, so I jumped at the opportunity to get tickets while we were in the area.  It was amazing!  Never fear, Brooklyn is here!

Sushi. So many different kinds of sushi.


My sister showed us around her grad school campus.

2. I ran 7 miles in Central Park. My first 7 miles! And then ate a yummy egg and cheese bagel.

3. We went to Baltimore.  I have two close friends that I've known since high school who live up there, and our mutual lack of cars means that we don't see each other as often as we should.  So MG and I took the Amtrak up on a Saturday to spend the night.  We: had a picnic in a beautiful park; had a delicious and fun meal of vegetarian moussaka homemade by my dear friend and cook extraordinaire, Rachel; enjoyed Indian buffet; visited a cool free art museum; and played Scattergories in a sculpture garden.  I love my friends!


The moussaka assembly.

Friends, food and wine. Pretty much all you need.

4. I ran 8 miles on the National Mall.  My first 8 miles!  And then ate a yummy egg and cheese bagel.

5. MG finished his civic duty on a trial, so we celebrated with Frozen Yo.  Also he surprised me one day after work by having 3 loaves of pumpkin yeast bread in the oven when I walked in the door.  I love him.

6. MG and I did a little paint your own pottery and then went out for a fantastic Vietnamese dinner for one of our monthly secret dates that we plan for each other.

The artist at work.


Lemongrass chicken for him, pork bun for her.

7. We went to New Jersey for the wedding of one of MG's friends from high school.  It was a beautiful wedding and I loved meeting all of his friends.  It was also the most extravagant wedding I have been to, foodwise.  During cocktail hour I ate my weight in Chinese food, Italian food, shrimp cocktail, and perhaps a bacon-wrapped scallop or two.  And I tried caviar (verdict: love it! Wish it wasn't so freaking expensive).

Approximately 1% of the full extent of the cocktail hour food and drink spread.

The caviar station. That guy looks creepy, but I can overlook that for expensive fish eggs.

8. Went to a panel talk at the National Archives featuring three former White House chefs who collectively served presidents from Carter through Obama.  Highlight: learning that Amy Carter used to ask the chefs to help her bake cookies, then would run off in her roller skates and let them burn.  Also the time that one of the chefs was instructed to destroy a box of expensive caviar that Gorbachev brought to President Reagan, because it was a security threat. The chef decided it was worth dying for and took it home. See #7, above.

We have one more trip to make, this time to Wisconsin for the wedding of two of my best friends from law school.  I can't wait to celebrate with them, but it will also be nice to have a weekend at home and get back into a normal life routine.  Once we return, Cookies and Kale will be back to its regularly scheduled programming.  Happy Halloween!

Photo source: Lynn Dairy

October 4, 2011

Meatless Monday: Shirley's Southwest Chili Soup

Yes, it's Tuesday.  Better late than never, right?

I had planned to post this recipe last night for Meatless Monday, but then I decided that testing out my new three-tiered cooling racks was a better idea. The fact that testing them involved baking these amazing pumpkin chocolate chip cookies played no part in the decisionmaking. I promise. However, I can't say I regret the decision :)

More delicious than blogging.

Anyways, on to the post! My maternal grandmother is a pretty amazing woman.  She's in her 80s and super active and healthy.  One of her favorite pastimes is cooking.  In fact, at her 80th birthday party several years ago, she insisted on making almost all of the food herself.  I have a lot of vivid memories of food that my grandma prepared for my sister and me as children.  Some were more complex, some were as simple as melted havarti cheese with scallions on a baguette.  I love visiting my grandma because she always has new things for me to try.

My grandma has lived in a lot of places in the U.S. throughout her life, but she's spent a considerable amount of time in Arizona.  She loves Mexican and Tex-Mex food and in addition to making enchiladas, tostadas and burritos, makes her own salsa and enchilada sauce.

MG and I went to visit her in May of this year and one of the things she prepared for us was her Southwest Chili Soup.  Texans will probably be offended that the word "chili" even appears in the title, so as a disclaimer, no, this is not chili.  First, it doesn't have any meat or even fake meat.  Second, it has beans, which purists say don't belong in chili.  Third, it's soup.  It's the consistency of soup.  But while it may not be chili, it is a hearty, warm and filling meal that has all the flavors and goodness of a bowl of vegetarian chili.

My grandma has this recipe written on an index card and she copied it out onto an index card which is now in my recipe binder, so if there is an original source, I have no idea what it is.  I've also added corn to the recipe, because I love corn.

All the ingredients (also my multivitamins. Nice phototaking skills, Esther)

Since May I've made this three or four times, which is impressive because I generally am too distracted by new recipes such that I rarely make the same recipe more than a couple of times a year.

NB: my grandma's recipe calls for sherry at the end.  She told me that this was her addition and insisted that I put it in because it makes it "so much better." (My grandma channels Julia Child from time to time). Obviously this is completely optional, but if you don't have a problem with putting sherry in, I do think it gives the soup a little something extra.

The hard stuff.

Grandma Shirley's Southwest Chili Soup
Probably originally adapted from a magazine, somewhere...

Serves 4-6.

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 small can diced green chiles
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp garlic powder OR 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 and 3/4 cup vegetable broth (or use Better than Boullion with equal amount water)
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained (I prefer using the fire-roasted variety)
1 can (14.5 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14.5 oz) kidney or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn (or fresh if it's in season!)
1/3 cup sherry
cayenne pepper, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven at medium heat.  Add onion, chiles, chili powder, cumin and garlic. Cook and stir until vegetables are tender.

Add broth and tomatoes.  Heat to a boil.  Reduce heat to low.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  Add beans and corn, cook 5 minutes longer or until hot. Add sherry and simmer for an additional 3 minutes. Finally, season with cayenne, salt and pepper.


October 1, 2011

New Month's Resolution: October

I cannot believe it's October already! I really feel like it was only a couple of weeks ago that MG was having his wisdom teeth out and I went to Miami.  But this morning, in case there was any doubt that fall is here, we woke up to 53 degrees and a grey fall sky threatening rain.

We're not to be deterred, though, so in addition to watching Ohio State play this afternoon, we're going over to the Crafty Bastards Fair to do a little early Christmas shopping (and possibly buy some things for ourselves while we're at it).

Last month I decided to start setting monthly goals for myself and share them with you. My September resolution was to try to snack only if I was actually hungry (and not for other reasons, like boredom).

This month, my goal isn't exactly food related, but it is health and fitness related.  And, as I mentioned in my first post, part of my desire to have a blog is not just to share delicious recipes with you, but also to have a place to share some of my successes and challenges in staying fit in general.  So, for all you foodies out there, I hope you will indulge me in talking a little bit about my October goal: to run a 15K.

I've run off and on since I was in college (although there was a lot of "off" in there). The summer before my 3L year I did the Couch to 5K running plan and ran my first 5K.  Since then I haven't always been consistent, but becoming a more committed runner was one of my challenges for myself when I decided to lose weight last New Year's, and I'm happy to report that not only have I stuck with it, but I'm loving it (I won't say every moment.  But many of the moments :) )

Finally, a race photo where I am smiling!
Photo credit: Marathon-photos.com

The Navy 5 Miler that I ran last weekend was my 10th race. I've now run several 5Ks, 8Ks and 10Ks, and I run regularly several times a week, usually 4-5 miles at a time.  When MG decided to sign up for the Hot Chocolate 15K, I started thinking about doing it too, but I had some fears. Although 15K isn't *quite* 10 miles, it's pretty darn close, and the idea of running that far was (and still is) pretty intimidating. But I remembered how scary the idea of running my first 5K was and then, in turn, how scary the idea of running two times that seemed, and I decided that there was no reason why I couldn't tackle this too (also the running jacket is pretty sick). So, on December 3, weather and health permitting, I will be running 9.3 miles, and then celebrating my achievement with Ghirardelli chocolate.

Although this race isn't until December, I've made it my October goal, because as I've previously mentioned we're traveling quite a bit in October. So the real challenge in my training will be to commit to waking up and running 7, 8, and even 10 miles while away. One the one hand, I always enjoy running in new places, because it's a fun way to see the city. On the other hand, I'm realistic, and I recognize that once I'm there, it may very well be a challenge to get myself out of bed.

So, I hope you don't mind if I share updates on my progress over the next 10 weeks.  In exchange for your patience and support, I'll share some yummy recipes. Most of which will probably involve pumpkin. (J/k). (Sort of).

How will I cook you? Let me count the ways.

And finally, go Buckeyes!!

Reader Survey: What are your October resolutions?