Garbanzo Bean Salad

garbanzo-bean-salad

This is an incredibly easy but really tasty recipe, as Mark Bittman (author of How to Cook Everything) is known to create. I used red, yellow and green bell pepper, added shredded carrot and red cabbage, and skipped the onion because I didn’t have any. The recipe called for an optional tablespoon of sugar, which I left out.

I think it’s silly when recipes say “optional.” Everything is optional. And anything else can be added. Taste it and change it until you think it’s good. Be free!


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Sopa de Lima

Lime Soup

This NY Times soup was one of the first recipes I bookmarked when I started keeping a folder of online recipes. I loved the idea of this soup and although I probably thought about it every time someone said “soup,” it took me more than a year to get around to making it.

Once I started cooking it, I realized it was almost too simple. Bland even. No onion or garlic? No chilies? Midway through the simmering process, I threw in some garlic cloves, chili powder, cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes. It turned out just right.

The soup is not too heavy, but plenty satisfying in winter. The lime and cilantro give it freshness, while the cinnamon, cloves and chili offer warmth.

We highly recommend serving this with the incredible cornmeal crunch from 101 Cookbooks. Our friend Kat made it and it rocked our world.


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Getting Closer…

smart-chicken

I sometimes do my grocery shopping at 1am. I don’t know why, maybe I like having the whole store to myself (with the exception of the guy on the zamboni floor polisher thing). Everything is pristine, ordered, in their rows. Granted, I’ve noticed a higher percentage of older/bruised fruit and veggies, but the solidarity of the moment and the lack of pressure to think about what I want far outweigh the occasional so-so tomato.

Last night was awesome, as far as grocery shopping experiences go. I picked up some Harvarti, which I first had at Britt’s over winter break on a sandwich. New favorite cheese, hands down. That’s standard fare though, not uncommon.

What else I noticed was over in the meat aisle, a new option next to Tyson. Now, I don’t hate Tyson, I think the chicken (and cornish game hens) are quite delicious, but

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I can only assume that such a large company doesn’t really give a hoot about the animals, only getting it into those well designed packages. I also realize that most chicken processing facilities accept up to a certain amount of death due to the close quarters and spread of disease. According to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s book on meat, broiler chicken houses can have up to 30% death rate and be considered healthy. Thats 30% of 10,000 to 40,000 birds. (That book has been my bible lately, expect to see a ton of references to it).

I’ve always felt bad funding what I can only assume is the standard intensive farming practice, but never really saw an easy option presented alongside it. That changed last night. Maybe it’s new (or maybe I’m just blind), but a brand known as MBA SmartChicken was available. They offer two varieties, vegetable and grain fed free range, and a full blown organic, which is everything the first level is, but even more natural.

Supposedly.

I know the words organic and free range get thrown around lot, so I’m still skeptical, but the website claims the chickens and the feed are both from right here in Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska. That means less cost to get the feed to the birds and less cost to transport the chicken itself.

I thought, “what the hell”, and got a whole chicken, 7 bucks. $2.85 more than the Kroger brand sold at Gerbes. Not too much more, for hopefully a chicken that lived a much happier life, died in a much less stressful way, and in theory should taste much better because of it. Now again, I’ll have to do some more research into the topic. MBA may be blowing smoke up our collective “green”-loving asses, but I have a feeling short of buying chicken at the farmers market or raising my own, it’s the best alternative right now. We’ll let you know how it tastes soon enough.

Oh, I also found some free range eggs too, only 80 cents more than the generic store brand. We’ll see if they make a better omelet.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake

pumpkin-cake

What? You forgot about pumpkin after Thanksgiving?

I love pumpkin. Mostly, I love all the spices that are associated with it: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice… Tonight after a Moroccan-inspired dinner, a spiced cake with dark chocolate chips was just what we needed. And who says pumpkin isn’t February food?

This recipe is a variation of the New York Times’ chocolate-pumpkin layer cake. We needed dessert fast, so layers weren’t an option and neither was making frosting. I basically cut the recipe in half, skipped the nuts, added my own touches (cardamom and orange zest) and 30 minutes later, we were enjoying spicy, pumpkinny, dark chocolatey goodness. This is really dense and moist, and that’s what makes it good.

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Going for Gold

chef_hat

We are proud to announce that He and She and our friend Gwen will compete against four other teams in the University of Missouri Iron Chef battle next week. The three of us are confident in our cooking skills, but we’ve never been in much of a pressure situation. It will be interesting to see how we adapt to having a time limit and working in a new kitchen.

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