The one where I don’t cook.

I’m thinking the title gives away the gist of this post.

I’m not cooking today, nor did I cook all weekend.  But I have a great excuse…

It was SUNNY!

And WARM!!

(Well, mid-60’s, but for us that is warm.)

We’ve been outside for almost three days straight.  (Seriously, just coming in for pit stops, naps, and bedtime.)

So, I hope you will all forgive me.  If not, I’m hoping these happy faces will convince you.  🙂

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This is not a real post.

But I don’t have time for a real post right now.

(I promise I’ll get one up later today – or tomorrow at the latest.)

Things are just hectic around here.  I know, you’re surprised.

Anyways, I just wanted to take a moment to prove to you why I still call this blog Misadventures in Cooking.

See, yesterday was Valentine’s Day.  Hubs is always in charge of our meal, and this year I took care of dessert.  Here’s Hub’s amazing dish: crab risotto topped with pan seared scallops:

Since we were both chocolate-d out, we decided to go with our old standby of strawberry shortcake for dessert.  A dish I have made many times before.  Unfortunately, it did not quite turn out:

It’s these little experiences that keep me humble.

Good thing I could camouflage it in the bowl with strawberries and whipped cream.

I’m so lucky he loves me no matter what.

Blogger Unplugged

A couple of weeks ago, I was tagged by Geni at Sweet and Crumby to do the Bloggers Unplugged quiz.  Now Geni has become a wonderful friend, so I certainly couldn’t turn down her invitation to share a little about myself.

(Plus, I wanted to take a minute to thank her for being such a great ‘listener’ and for spoiling me rotten with a little birthday/Valentine’s Day care package.  She absolutely made me day.  For those of you who haven’t checked out her blog, Geni does an amazing job pairing divine food with positive and inspirational thoughts about life, with a little humorous twist.  I promise if you visit Sweet and Crumby, you will not be disappointed.)

Now back to the Unplugged portion of the post…

1. Who or What inspired your blog?  To be completely honest with you, I started this blog as a way to rant about my husband.  (Is that bad?!?)  I needed a place to voice my opinions as I attempted to learn how to cook – without going postal on my beloved husband.  If you’ve been reading recently, you can see that I’ve come full circle and have even had Hubs guest post.  I seriously believed I would only be blogging for a very short time – and that no one would actually be reading it but me.  I’m very glad things have turned out differently.

2. Who is your foodie inspiration?  Well, I’m kind of inspired by a lot of people.  I really get excited seeing my fellow bloggers’ ideas and sometimes have to make their dish (usually a dessert) right then.  Of course, I’m also inspired by my husband – but don’t tell him that.  And I think if I could’ve been less of a typical teenage girl, I probably would have been inspired by my mom.  Instead, I usually gave her a hard time for tweaking my favorite recipes in innovative ways.  Now I can appreciate the creativity she has.

3. Your greasiest batter-splattered cookbook is?  Yikes.  I really don’t use cookbooks.  I think my biggest resource for recipes is the internet and all the amazing food bloggers out there.  As for paper recipes, when I use one, it’s usually from Hubs’ Cooks Illustrated magazines.  (Those people at the America’s Test Kitchen are geniuses, I tell you.)  We do have a ton of cookbooks around here, but I just don’t have the time to browse them for the perfect recipe.

4. Tell us about the best thing that you have eaten in another country, where was it, what was it?  I’m going to be slightly boring with the answer to this question.  See, I’ve only really been to a couple other countries my whole life (France being one of them), and I was only 18 and quite the picky eater, so I didn’t really try anything spectacularly out-there.  But, I did have my first slice of Margherita pizza at a dive restaurant in the Quartier Latin – and it has been my absolute favorite pizza since.

5. Another food blogger’s table that I’d like to eat at?  Okay, so this question is just not fair.  So, I’m going to list more than one… Since I live in a household of boys, I’d love to meet up with a bunch of my fellow female bloggers for a ‘Girl’s Night In’ with a delicious meal and great conversation.  I’d ask Caroline and Kristy to be in charge of the main dishes (and I wouldn’t mind if Kristy brought her lovely Miss A, too).  Lisa would have to be there to provide some sort of healthy side.  And I think I’d put Geni and Barb in charge of dessert.  Wow, I think I’ve discovered what could possibly be the perfect meal.  But really, each of them could bring whatever they wanted, and I would still be quite happy.

6. What is the one kitchen gadget that you would ask for this year?  Let me start out by saying we have a TON of kitchen gadgets; shelves and drawers full of them.  It’s my go-to present for Hubs every year for any holiday.  So, I think we’re pretty set in that way.  If I could get something for my kitchen it would be new counters!  We have these ugly tile counters with (originally) white grout.  I mean, who in the world chooses white grout for a kitchen??!  Now the grout is a lovely shade of mottled gray that I hate, and I can not get it clean.  It drives me nuts.  So, in my dream world, I’d love new granite counter tops.  Doubt that will happen anytime soon, but a girl can dream, right?

7. Who taught you how to cook?  I love this question because in my life it should be ‘Who tried to teach you to cook?’  And in that case, I could list: my mom, my friends, my roommates, my past co-workers, and my husband.  And the answer to the real question: me.  I’m teaching myself how to cook.

8. I’m coming for dinner, what is your signature dish? Wow.  I don’t really have a signature dish… but the one I’ve perfected over time and would probably serve would be my Very Lemon Chicken with some Parmesan Herb Risotto.  (I’d love to serve some sort of delicious veggie, too, but I’m failing in the vegetable department right now.)  I’d also have to include a loaf of Sheepherder’s Bread to share.  And for dessert, hmmmm, some of Hub’s Chocolate Chip Cookies (I know, not my signature dish and not too fancy, but darn they’re good!).

9. What is your guilty food pleasure? Well, I’m pretty sure you already know that I love chocolate.  Dark chocolate to be exact – but I really don’t feel too guilty about it.  I mean, dark chocolate’s totally healthy.  Right?  Anyways, I think the food that makes me feel the most guilty about is Ben and Jerry’s Mint Chocolate Cookie Ice Cream.  Not really because it’s bad, but because I have been known, on rare occasions, to eat a whole pint in one sitting.  I believe that is four servings at one time.  Not so healthy for you – but man does it taste good.

10. Reveal something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn.  I think this is the toughest question – as I feel like I’m a pretty open book.  I guess for those of you that don’t know me, you may be surprised to know that I am the most unathletic, uncoordinated person ever.  It is painful to watch me try to hit a baseball with a bat or a golf ball with a club – just ask Hubs.  I am proud, though, that I trained and ran my first two 5K races last summer, and hope to pick running back up again this year.  For me, that was a huge, huge deal – as I’m not only bad at sports, I have crappy endurance, too.

Now for the fun part, I get to tag 5 more bloggers to be Unplugged… (But really, you don’t have to.)

Christine from Foodthoughtsofachefwannabe

Kay from Pure Complex

Kate from Calamity Kate’s Kitchen

Caroline from Sweet Caroline’s Cooking

Barb from Just a Smidgen

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Pickle Pot Results

Grrrr.  Can you tell I’ve been avoiding posting this.

I guess it’s not all bad news.  But it wasn’t the resounding success I was hoping for, that’s for sure.

Okay, drumroll please…

Four objective judges: one man, two women, one lovely young lady.

Two liked my husband’s pickles, one couldn’t decide, and one like mine.

Hubs is having a field day, of course.  I’m choosing to move on in an adult-like and mature fashion.  (Which means only a little bit of pouting, minimal dirty looks, while refraining from tossing any pickle juice in his smug face.)

Anyways, I did get points for the spear shape – but his allegedly had a more traditional dill flavor.  They were both pretty darn spicy, so cut back on the garlic and mustard seed if you are not a spice person (aka you don’t want to have pickle breath for three days – honestly).  I do have to say, mine did taste best in a great tuna salad.

But really, overall, I’m okay.

Because I did beat him at Crumpets.

Hah.

Back to the Market: A Tasting Tour

Like I mentioned last week, Hubs and I just celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary.

It’s pretty exciting – not only because we’ve made it through 11 years, five careers, two boys, two houses, one dog, and I’d say about 20 fish (six of which are the only ones left alive…long story) – but because we had a weekend out.  Away from said house, boys, dog, and fish.  By ourselves.  Alone.

This is serious.  And very, very rare.  (Kind of like a tropical disease, you might say).

Anyways, we ended up in downtown Seattle, eating and shopping our way through the days.  One of the best things we did, though, was use our Christmas present from earlier this year to go on a Tasting Tour of the Pike Place Market.  As I’ve written about before, we kinda love the Market.  And we were so excited to go without the little people.  Plus this tour would take us off the beaten track and promised to show us things we’ve never seen or tasted before.

Our expectations were not only met, but greatly, greatly exceeded.

We met up with our tour guide from Seattle Food Tours, Penny, at a little Chinese tea place, The Vital Tea Leaf, that we had never visited before.  After about seven tea tastings (that filled our veins with loads of caffeine) and listening to our tour guide’s informative and hilarious stories about tea and the Market in general, we were off together to explore.

I take no credit for these photos… I was too busy eating, chatting, laughing, and learning to actually take any pictures.  Any and all pictures here are from the Seattle Food Tours website.

Hubs is quite a foodie, if you haven’t guessed – so he was in heaven meeting all the owners of these small shops and tasting all sorts of new stuff.  He loved The Truffle Cafe where we got to sample several truffle oils and truffle salt.

It was a little overpowering for me … but I was in heaven when we got to go gelato tasting.  And when I had my very first crumpet, with butter and honey.

Who knew these were so good!  I am definitely researching recipes to make some of these bad boys.  Yum!  (If you happen to have a good one, please share!)

Besides all the delicious food we got (which was a LOT – way more than I got when we did the Chicago Chocolate Tour), we soaked in all the interesting historical information about the Market.

I was surprised at how much we didn’t know.  And it was really fun learning about our local area.

So, overall, a great way to spend two and a half hours: we felt smarter, fuller, and our taste buds stretched.

I would highly, highly recommend it should you ever visit Seattle – or if you live here and want a good time out and about.

Things I’ve blown up in a Microwave

I really would’ve like to cook something this week.  As in a real meal.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, Hubs has taken the oldest away for a 3 day/2 night camping extravaganza.  That leaves me home cooking for one (well, one and a quarter if you count the toddler).  And it leaves me camera-less and motivation-less for several days.

I mean seriously, I have no desire to cook for just me.  So… I’m practicing my “nuking” skills for leftovers in the good ole microwave.

As I popped in my first meal last night, I began to reminisce on all the things I’ve ruined/exploded in a microwave (lack of adult conversation can do this to you).  And I thought I’d share.

There’s the obvious, of course:

1. hot dog

(Who hasn’t ever done this?  I think it’s a teenage right of passage.)

2. popcorn

(Did you know that if you over-pop popcorn long enough, the bag turns black and smokes?)

3.  frozen vegetables

(This is just impressive because I was even attempting to cook veggies.  And peas are just awesome when they pop.)

4.  baby food

(FYI, if there is any aluminum/metal whatsoever, not a good thing – you’d think I would’ve already known this.)

5.  butter – still in the wrapper

(A whole new version of a meltdown.)

And then the not so obvious:

6. Jiffy Pop popcorn

(I was very young.  Like 10.  At a friend’s house.  We were curious what would happen.  Her parents were not impressed.)

7.  a digital thermometer

(Another fun teenage moment… I was trying to fake a fever.  To all those who want to do that, microwave some water and then place the thermometer in the water.  Do NOT ever place the thermometer in the microwave – it sparked with lots of mini-lightning bolts, fried the plastic, created the most disgusting smell, and ruined the microwave.   Sorry Mom, if you’re seeing this.  That’s why they broke.  Ooops.)

Anyways, as you can see, I’ve had a long tumultuous relationship with the microwave.  I think we’ve worked out our differences, though, and can now work together as a team. 

I’d love to hear any fun microwave stories you might have…

Boston Cream Pie Disaster

I don’t even know where to begin.

Let’s start with my baking confidence… it’s pretty much at an all-time low right about now.  And that is not a good thing.  This dish caused not one, not two, but three baking mishaps.  I think that’s a new record for me.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s go back to the beginning.

My heart was in the right place.  My folks were coming over to watch the boys (date night!) and I wanted to make my dad his favorite dessert for a belated birthday present.  He adores Boston Cream Pie, so I thought, why not?

I started out making the actual cakes.  I found a recipe through google (Note to self: not a good plan, unless I know the cook or it’s rated highly.  Lesson learned.  Lesson whacked up side my head.  Lesson shoved down my throat.)

(Anyways, I won’t be sharing the recipe or any of the others, as I do not recommend them.) 

So, I mixed up the batter, added it to my wax-lined cake pans (as suggested), and placed them in the oven to bake.  I checked on them about 5 minutes early, and my toothpick came back clean.  I took the pans out and set them aside to cool.

Ahhh, back when I was still optimistic...

After the cooled, I went to take them out.  And, instead of two soft, spongy, light cakes, I had two hard, crispy, cookie-like disks.  If that wasn’t frustrating enough, the wax paper had melted to the bottom of the cakes.  Awesome.

Boston Cream Pie Gods: 1,  Courtney: 0

You would think this would’ve been a sign to stop.  But nowadays, I’m a fighter in the kitchen.  I wasn’t going to give up so easily.  And I figured my dad would really know it was my cooking, with a crispy cake instead of the soft one.

And so, I moved on to the custard.  And stupid me, I decided to work on while I was cooking my Tuscan dinner.  Not the brightest move.

I cooked my custard according to the recipe I found – from the same place as the cakes.  What was I thinking??  When I went to add my egg yolks…they, um, kinda cooked a bit…

Can you see the little flecks of cooked egg yolk?

And yet still, I forged on.  I placed the custard into fridge to cool. 

After it cooled, I went to dump it on one of the cakes.  And it came out… in one BIG lump of gelatinous goop.  I could’ve cut it with a knife and served it in slices, I swear.

Boston Cream Pie Gods: 2,  Courtney: 0

This is the point where I might have cried a little bit.  I was overly stressed from the dinner cooking, the cake issues, and now this custard lump.

Hubby was so supportive, after he got over being amused at my issues (yes, he did laugh at me, but in doing so, he helped me learn to laugh at myself).  He took out his tried and true Boston Cream Pie recipe and said he’d help me re-make the whole thing.

I was kind of over it at this point, so he basically did all the work for the cake and custard.  I was ready, though, to step up for the chocolate topping.

I thought for sure, with the already-tested and trusted recipe, nothing could go wrong.  And I could still at least tell my dad that I helped make his cake, even if it was just the topping.

So, I followed the recipe exactly.  Word-for-word. 

And my shaved chocolate pieces would not melt.  They just sat in the pan in little clumps.  I did not take a picture because I was not a happy camper.  At all.

Boston Cream Pie Gods: 3, Courtney: 0

Thank goodness Hubs was around, because he knew some tricks to fix it and make it work.  And he did.

So we had a cake to give to my dad…but here’s the last hilarious part…

It slid apart before serving.

Seriously, at this point, all we could do was just laugh.

And dig in. 

At least it still tasted good!