Wednesday, December 26, 2007

winter break shenanigans

by Stephanie

Confession: I used to absolutely hate macaroni and cheese. It sounds terrible, I know. There are lots more worthy things in the world to hate, but until about 4 years ago, I absolutely hated the almost-universally loved childhood classic, mac 'n cheese. My theory is that my former distate for it either has to do with (a) my phobia of creamy white substances (more on this later) or (b) my weird need to be differentiated from my brother's food palette.

Did any of you experience a similar tension in your household? My brother and I had this intense desire to be stark opposites: he was a white sauce, mac 'n cheese kind of kid, and I was the red sauce, spaghetti side of the spectrum. I would not touch his stuff, and he absolutely refused to go near anything that was red (this also excluded chili and all other tomato products in addition to spaghetti sauce). I think we lived a ridiculous childhood, and I'm sure my mother put up with a lot.

I had to preface this post with that background because the other night my brother and I were wandering around the kitchen, wondering what to do with our hungry stomachs, and I suggested making the very food I detested all throughout my younger years. "Steph, don't you hate that stuff?" questioned my brother. "Then again, I'm not going to argue." We searched around the fridge for some cheese to use, and then he remembered. Mom had just bought a giant brick of Dubliner cheese the other day...perfect! He cooked up the pasta; I thickened some milk and butter with a little flour, then melted cheese into the mixture, tossed it with fusilli and called it a night.

steph's mac 'n cheese
8 oz. macaroni (or similar pasta)
2 tbs butter
2 tbs flour
2 c milk
2 1/2-3 c shredded cheese (mix them if you've got multiple kinds!)

Cook pasta in well-salted boiling water. Melt butter in a medium saucepan, add milk and then flour, stir. Cook until slightly thickened and bubbly; add cheese and stir until melted. Add in cooked macaroni and toss to coat.

Other things I've been up to:

zebra cake!

Okay, this has nothing to do with food, but my family dog-sat for this adorable Cavalier King Charles Spaniel--his name is Basil.

How proud of me are you?! Two posts in a month?! Lisa's in Malaysia right now, but I'm sure there will be gads of fun photos and food tidbits to share when she returns.

Friday, December 14, 2007

frying everything

by Stephanie

Oh Lisa, your lovely writing always make me want to post. (And a sonnet?! Oh my gosh! Such untapped talent! Reader, you may be reading the work of a future Poet Laureate.) Yes, we will be joint posting soon. And yes, I also have food stories to tell (although admittedly less than Lisa because I don't have daily access to a kitchen this year).

Okay, so if you must know something about me, it's that I really like fried things. Can I emphasize this enough? Fried things are so good, so hot and crunchy and golden. I'm not sure where this affinity came from; I wouldn't say we ate a preponderance of fried things at home when I was little. That said, I've never been discouraged from eating lots of fried things (thanks for the everlasting search for the perfect fried chicken, Mom. I appreciate that a lot.) Sometimes it's hard being me in a health-crazed California. All the salad really gets to me sometimes.

Last night at my old apartment my friends Donna and Cindy decided to make samosas. They even made their own dough (courtesy of are awesome), and I was very proud. I didn't partake in the making of the little triangular pieces of goodness, but after dinner we were sitting around, eating cookies and I noticed that we had a lot of leftover oil from the samosas. What to do?

I decided in the spirit of my unabashed love for fried everything that we should fry the rest of the cookies. After I whipped up a quick batter, Donna also brought out all this candy she had been stashing, and so we fried that too. Basically, it was a mini-state fair in the Castle, and it was a very good night. Of particular note was the fried peanut butter cup...and the fried M&M's. Seriously!! Frying M&M's is such a joy. (A big plus is that some of the color starts to leak into the batter while coating them and then with the leftover batter you can make rainbow fritters/hush puppies! Am I obsessed?)

Fried things aren't particularly photogenic (probably the lack of color), but they are certainly tasty, especially with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream. Moral of the story: don't be scared to fry things because otherwise you are just missing out on life. Moderation is key...every other day should do it. Kidding, maybe.

Fried dough batter*:
1 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 egg
3/4 c. milk
oil for frying

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Combine the wet ingredients in a smaller bowl. Combine the milk mixture with the flour mixture and stir. Coat fryable items of your choosing (we used Sandies cookies, the shortbread with the chocolate in the middle and several kinds of chocolate candy. This gets as good as you want it to be.) Heat oil in a skillet on medium heat; you know it is ready for frying when little bubbles form around a wooden chopstick inserted in the middle of the pan (credit to Mom for that trick). Fry on one side until golden, then flip; drain on paper towels. Eat until your stomach threatens mutiny.

*funny thing about this recipe: I tried to research online for batter recipes, and Epicurious was giving me a lot of trouble (i.e. they do not approve of such things by the noticeable lack of recipes on this topic on their site.) So this is from Emeril...your television personality may be more than slightly annoying, but you are superior to Epicurious in my book right now!

**the photo is beyond craptastic, I know. I took it with my camera phone because I didn't have my digital camera on me, and I could not let this event of monumental historical significance pass undocumented. One day I will embrace the whole food photography movement but until then...go fry things!


by Lisa

So my last post was about waiting. Waiting for Thanksgiving. Waiting for Steph and I to write our joint post about our lovely dinner party. (Way overdue by now; we're sorry.) But mostly, waiting for school to be over.

Well, now it's finally here. I. Am. Officially. Done. With. School. Forever. Until grad school, of course. As for the other things we've waited for, certainly Thanksgiving has come and gone. And after this, I'm going to start our joint post. We need to make up for all we owe to you, wonderful friends and readers, for this hiatus in writing.

The last few weeks have been filled with frantic thesis writing, but I've still managed to have some cooking adventures. I just haven't had time to write about it. But now I'm finally free! I wouldn't have expected to feel so overwhelmed by having so much to say about food, but I really do. That is, I really do feel overwhelmed... and of course, I do also have so much to say about food.

Where do I begin?

I could talk about how I ate eight (yes, eight!) of Maria's glorious banana cream pies. Well, they were more like little muffins, not really pies. Whew. But still. Maybe we shouldn't start there. How about this? I got this lovely (lovely!) spice set from India from my wonderful friends Brad and Carla. You can ask my roommates: I did a little dance around the kitchen when I opened the metal container.

I have been working on Indian food since the summer so this was such a treat. Yesterday I made chana masala (garbanzo bean curry) and yes, it tastes so much better when you add in the spices one at a time in whatever proportions your heart desires. Plus it's more fun that way.

Besides Chinese, I'm most often cooking Indian or Mexican. In the kitchen you'll often find me chopping onions, mincing garlic, dicing tomatoes, washing cilantro, using lemons, limes, cumin and other spices. Did you notice what I did? There is quite an overlap in the list of common ingredients! I was surprised, too. Well, a friend asked for my pico de gallo recipe so I've decided to post it, but to be honest, there really isn't a recipe to it. I think you'll like it best if you trust your instincts. (Just don't ever ever ever make it while you're mincing garlic for collard greens and in trying to be efficient and end up mincing garlic for both your pico and your greens because you don't want to have to wash the knife and board twice and then while you're waiting for the burner you accidently drop all your tomatoes in the bowl with too much garlic and then end up bringing your way-too-garlicky salsa to your professor's house for a party. No good, I tell you.)

This is all for now. But there's definitely more to come! Until then, enjoy the recipes. The pico makes a surprisingly Christmasy addition to any party, what with all its red and green. And it's very quick and easy.

Oh, wait! One more thing before the recipes. I wrote a sonnet, for my roommates, about our fridge. Here it is. And then, the recipes.

College Fridge

Our fridge, we find, is never full for long.
We cannot seem to keep ourselves away.
Upon return from school we form a throng
about the cage and hunt for food and play
by thinking ‘bout the matches we can make.
“Do you want ice cream with your apple pie?”
“Or how about some fruit with chocolate cake?”
There always seems to be a large supply
and so we find our joy in making things
that put together what we have inside,
to find surprises in whate’er that brings.
It worked for us until today we cried,
“Oh no! We really cannot go on in this way!”
“We’ve more ideas than food—it’s not okay!”

Chana masala

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium-sized yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium tomato, diced
2-3 tablespoons curry powder or mixed Indian spices (cumin, coriander, clove, chili, fenugreek seeds, ginger, pepper, tumeric, etc.)
2-4 tablespoons of water
salt to taste
cilantro, lemons, tomatoes, onions for garnish

Heat oil on medium heat in skillet. Add onions and saute 5-8 minutes until translucent and fragrant. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Add garbanzo beans and saute until heated through. Add tomatoes and some water, cover skillet and lower heat. Allow mixture to cook for another 10-15 minutes, depending on how hungry you are. Garnish with chopped cilantro, slices of lemon, etc. and serve with hot naan or basmati rice. Serves 3 or 4.

Pico de gallo

3 medium-sized tomatoes, diced (I usually use Roma because they are firmer and easier to cut, but any will do)
1/2 white onion, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalepeno pepper (sometimes I use serrano if I want it extra spicy)
1 handful of cilantro leaves
1 lime (I like to use Meyer lemons if we have them from our tree)
pinch of kosher sea salt

Basically, it all goes together in a bowl. A few tips: you can seed the jalenpeno if you like it less spicy. After cutting the lime in half, first score it by using a knife to cut an 'x' so that it squeezes more easily. Add salt to taste, but also note that it helps with cut the pungency of the onions and the acidity of the tomatoes. Adjust the proportions to your taste. And it definitely improves upon sitting in the fridge. But it usually doesn't last that long at our place! Serve with tortilla chips.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

More on contradictions

by Lisa

I don't bake. But that's for another post. Because today (and a few weeks ago) I baked.

My roommate, Elizabeth, went to Apple Hill this weekend. When I got back from Chicago, I saw apples and pears everywhere. I mean, everywhere. On the dining table, on the counter. A whole drawer in the refrigerator had been emptied in order to be filled with pears. She promised she would make me applesauce (with the skins on, the way we both like it). So I knew I'd be enjoying something tasty soon. (--I thought you would like to know that I just restrained myself from making a pun on the "fruits of her labor.") But the memory of a recent and delicious pear crisp (thanks, Jennifer!) was plaguing me enough to impel me towards turning on the oven.

So I made a pear crisp. I looked up some recipes; most of the ones available were for apple crisps and had way too much sugar. One called for vanilla, and I figured, why not replace that with rum? -- both have alcohol that cooks off to leave a good flavor. And besides, I needed to give myself more motivation to actually bake. I also compensated for my aversion to baking by not measuring. I realize that that makes it difficult for a food blogger to share recipes, but I'll try my best.

A few weeks ago when I made banana bread, I surprised not only myself, but also my roommates. I'm spooning out sugar into the bowl (not a measuring cup) and my roommates standing by are worried. ("You're not measuring?" one of them pipes up. "Oh no," says the other.) I get into my younger-sibling-poutiness and say, "I want to be good at baking, I do! I just... I just don't try hard enough!" Sarah and Maria try to be empathetic. "Me, too," Maria offers, nodding her head with understanding, "but not really..." Ah, well. I guess it's the youngest-sibling part of me that notices something needs to change but doesn't want to make the change.

Anyway, the bread turned out pretty well. Moist, banana-y. The way my mom makes it.

Pear Crisp

6-8 pears, cored and sliced thinly

a few tablespoons of white sugar, depending on taste (apples require more)

1 tablespoon flour 1 tablespoon (or more to taste) of cinnamon
2 tablespoon of dark rum (optional)

a few tablespoons of water

1 cup quick-cooking oats

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

Mix sliced pears in bowl with white sugar, flour, cinnamon, and rum. Lay mixture on bottom of greased 13 x 9 pan. Add a few tablespoons of water over pears.

Mix oats, flour, and brown sugar. Cut butter into dry ingredients to make a crumbly mixture. Spread evenly over pears in pan. Bake at 350-365 for 40 minutes or until pears are done.

Sarah's Banana Bread

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup each white and brown sugar
2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla
3 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup each regular and self-rising flour
pinch salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4-1 cup chopped walnuts

Cream butter and sugars. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and pour into a loaf pan that has been greased and floured. Bake at 375. for 50 minutes

Friday, November 9, 2007


by Stephanie

I do not sit well with contradictions. What this means: I am one of those people who tends to make discrete categories. I am also one of those people who freaks out when things don't fit into my discrete categories. Honestly, if I'm going to the trouble of making discrete categories, you (insert element here) should fit! Because I am a thorough person, and the world should be nice and neat. (My room is not an excellent example of this principle.)

So since I've come into my own at Berkeley, I've definitely become more aware of my preferences regarding food, and they've definitely grown more upscale since high school. Some foodie interests include absolutely anything produced by Cheeseboard , Peet's coffee (Mocha Java, thank you Lisa), chic cupcakes from Love at First Bite. I disdain things like "secret sauce"; that stuff is usually trashy. What can I say; my palate is continually refined by the wonderous paradise that is Berkeley.

But this is the weird part; this is the part that creates unrest and tension within myself. Sometimes I have cravings for the most terrible things, awful non-ritzy things like Jack in the Box tacos, a bowl of Cheerios with whole milk, Planters cheez balls (apparently these things are discontinued...ugh). I feel as though these urges are so contrary to my passion for the gourmet, so I usually try to ignore them or satiate them quickly so I can continue on my way to food actualization. (I don't know if that is an actual state that one can reach, but I can hope.)

Two days ago, we had these for lunch at the house:

You know what you're looking at? Happy face fries. That's right; these things are the most processed potato product you can get. The exterior is hopelessly greasy and crispy; the inside warm and mealy. They really are your ideal fried potato product, but LOOK AT THEM! They're the most low-brow food item to ever exist. And somehow I enjoy them as much as my 70% Scharffen Berger chocolate bar. I try to make this work in my mind, but it doesn't. I think I'm learning to be okay with that because I might kill myself otherwise. Also, it's kind of fun and freeing to let contradictions be. It means that I am letting go and refusing to let my control impulses get the best of me.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

stephanie attempts her first

by Stephanie

My first thought about creating a food blog is me, what, really? What kind of credibility can I lend to this piece of web space? My stats: cooking experience consists of two years of apartment living as a student, many of those pithy meals not motivated by any desire to create quality sustenance but rather to satisfy my stomach cheaply and quickly so I could go about studying/socializing/doing whatever students do with their abundant amounts of free time. Add to that several experiments with my mother's KitchenAid back home, and you've got the extent of my culinary knowledge. On one hand, I think I should quit now and save myself embarrassment/shame/my face on a global scale, since apparently these things can be read by literally anyone. On the other…I know food is an undeniable passion of mine. I've pored over all my mother's cookbooks, time and time again, marking up several of them with "recipe to try" post-it notes and gradually learning cooking techniques in the process. I've sat in front of the television, mesmerized by the latest Food Network host's advice on how to best chop an onion without crying. This past summer I discovered food blogs, and my life—what I do with the majority of my time on the internet, anyway—is irrevocably changed. I've read entries that make my foodie heart want to sing, so well do they speak to the very inners of what I crave in food and life—a twist to the familiar (a recent example was cookie baked on TOP of brownie...a crownie...glory), a resistance to modern compromise (margarine—NEVER a substitute to butter. Ever. Unless you're a vegan.) The lyrical writings I've encountered that have staying power in my mind so aptly describe the power food holds over our lives. I know that I really do care about food, and that should be enough. The rest will come. And so I embark on this road, safe in the knowledge that my friend Lisa can gently kick me (or just delete my entries) if my writing starts to meander or become incoherent. And I am so eager to contribute something to this world, something that is outside the realm of psychology grant proposals and public health policy briefs. So here I am, one half of the loveiscooking duo, expecting that I will gradually learn what it means for love and cooking to be equated, wildly excited at the possibilities that this newfound knowledge can generate.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

so maybe firsts aren't so overrated after all...

i've always heard that good food requires love. and i've believed it's true. but it was today that i realized that perhaps the reason good food requires love is because good food is so much like love.

a couple of years ago i overheard two girls joking about how everyone needs to have a first boyfriend just so they can get rid of all their lofty ideals, get over themselves, and go on to have good, healthy, working relationships. now, i won't be giving my opinion on relationships here, but i think there's truth in that for food. everyone needs to try making their first quiche, their first stew, their first souffle-- just so they can experience it, failure or success. then we can all move on and be real human beings, aware of our shortcomings and our strengths, our passions and our pet peeves.

good food is like love because it requires patience. because it requires trying over and over again. because it requires us to not give up when we make a mistake. because it requires gracious recipients who will love us even when we fail. because it requires experimenting. because there's no recipe for it, no fail-proof method. because it requires hope. and mostly, because when done right, it produces joy.

firsts are overrated.