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Archive for March, 2010

Now, you may think that because I’m a self-employed freelance writer, I stumble into bed at 3 AM, yawn and stretch my sleepy limbs at noon, and then talk to my plants for an hour while eating a sumptuous breakfast involving at least three bacon courses.

That’s what I would do if I were smart.

Instead, I have my love to keep me warm…and groggy. 

The Boy works a bizarre schedule which has him up at 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning for about half of every week, and like the devoted sucker I am, I get up with him.  But breakfast?  BREAKFAST?  That, I simply cannot do.  He’s lucky if I manage to make it past the couch, where I typically wrap myself in a blanket and rock gently until I’m no longer praying for death.

Hey, I said I was devoted, not superhuman.

But still, The Boy’s gotta eat.  And–despite the fact that food is, oh, THE LAST THING ON MY MIND while I’m doing my level best to maintain sanity and comprehend the fact that the sun is not up and yet I am I SAID THE SUN IS NOT UP AND THERE IS NO REASON ON EARTH WE SHOULD BE EITHER NO I DO NOT WANT YOU TO GET FIRED I JUST WANT EVERYONE TO SEE REASON AND REALIZE THAT THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR ANYTHING TO BE HAPPENING BEFORE 10AM–I should eat, too.  Nothing fancy.  Nothing that even requires electricity.  Just something The Boy can grab on his way to the bus stop.  Something that I can figure out how to unwrap, masticate, and swallow until everything makes sense again.  Enter, the granola bar.

I used this recipe for inspiration–it’s based on the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe.  Then I changed a bunch of stuff.  A lot of stuff.  Still, though, credit where it’s due.  It’s a great foundation recipe, just perfect for switching your favorite fruits, nuts, and favorite delicious bits in and out.  It’s vegetarian and can even be made vegan by changing the kind of fat you use.  And friends, does it ever smell (and look) good when you pull it out of the oven.

And hello, this is the post that keeps on giving, because the photo below makes the most maaaaahvelous computer desktop wallpaper:

My last version was as I’ve listed it below–full of plump dried cherries, toasted almonds, and oat-y goodness.  I’ll be making another batch tonight, this time subbing in some peanut butter and chocolate chunks (oh, just a few…BACK OFF, I SAID JUST A FEW AND IF I CAN’T HAVE SLEEP I WILL HAVE MY CHOCOLATE).  Oh, yes.  I will have my chocolate.

Besides.  It makes me feel good to know that somewhere, out there in the darkness, The Boy is riding some cold, bumpy bus to work, just as tired as I am, but perhaps with the hint of a smile on his face as he chows down on a breakfast in his number one favorite flavor combination, made by the BMG who loves him.

A BMG who is still at that moment incoherent and slightly out of her mind, yes.  But still–a BMG who loves him.

Homemade Granola Bars

Makes 12 squares

Go Get:

2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
3 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruit

Go Do:

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter a glass 9 x 13.

Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and sunflower seeds together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned–I actually usually need 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ and fruit.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300˚F.

Place the butter, maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture and stir well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into 12 squares. Serve at room temperature. (I like to wrap them individually for easy, on-the-go snacks or breakfasts.)

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If you’ve been following me on Twitter, or are damned cursed lucky enough to be a Facebook friend, you know that my “Confirm Order” finger gets a little itchy, oh, forty times per week.  And while I sometimes scratch that itch with a mammoth Barnes & Noble order or, say, the ever-elusive non-sexual Queen of Hearts costume, more often than not, if it’s between December and April, I’m buying seeds.  Oh, Lord, am I ever buying seeds.

Last year, Bad Mama Genny’s garden was good.  Modest.  Manageable.  Sane.  In other words, so not my style.  Well, this year I’ve decided to take action, and the 2010 garden plans are looking…

Utterly ridiculous.  

They are over-the-top.  They are sick.  They are twisted.  They take up six Excel worksheet pages.  They are perfect.

In the spirit of full-disclosure, here’s what I’m planting this year (NOTE, THESE PLANS ARE SUBJECT TO COULD POSSIBLY, OH HELL, THEY WILL 100% FOR SURE CHANGE IN THE NEXT 24 HOURS):

  • Red Russian Kale
  • Buttercrunch Lettuce
  • Rainbow Baby Greens
  • Red Sails Lettuce
  • Green Ice Lettuce
  • Chard
  • Chioggia Beets
  • Um, regular? beets
  • Blue Lake Stringless Green Beans
  • French Breakfast Radishes
  • Miss Pickler Cucumbers
  • Lemon Cucumbers
  • Miniature White Cucumbers
  • Dwarf Tophat Blueberries
  • Dwarf Northsky Blueberries
  • Mirai Corn
  • Yellow Straightneck Squash
  • Fairytale Eggplants
  • Cinderella Pumpkins
  • Garlic
  • Sugar Sprint Snap Peas
  • Chives
  • Scarlet Nantes Carrots
  • Heirloom Fingerling Potatoes
  • Early Butternut Squash
  • Celebrity Tomatoes
  • Heirloom Brandywine Tomatoes
  • Edible Nasturtiums
  • Dwarf Cavendish Bananas
  • Pineapples
  • Early Thickset Bell Peppers
  • Cascade Hops (for The Boy’s homebrews)
  • Willamette Hops (oh, the things I do for love)
  • Heirloom King of the Garden Lima Beans
  • Rosemary
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Alpine Mignonette Strawberries
  • Dwarf Cara Cara Blood Orange Tree

But you know, like I said, that’s just so far.  I could add plants at any time.  With zero warning.  And even less of a sense of accountability.

Did I mention these will be almost exclusively container plants?  And with any luck, my landlady will not have a cow.  Now, it’s still a little early for serious planting in Chicago (HELLOOOO, Friday picnic followed by Saturday snowfall), but my baby misfit garden is already in the works. 

While gardening is often a test of patience, squash are infinitely satisfying to watch.  These pictures were taken within the 24 hour window between yesterday afternoon and today:


You can do it, little squashling!


My, my, that looks uncomfortable.


Being born is messy.


Welcome to the brave, new world that is my apartment, little squash!  Rent is due on the 1st.


He’s lean, he’s green, and he’s HUNGRY!

Now let’s watch the snap peas!


Come ooooon, snap peas!


No?

All right, so we may have to wait a little on those.  Let’s turn our attention to the green pepper and eggplant seeds I started over a week ago:


And…nothing.

Sadly, the squash has ruined me for any seed that takes longer than four days to germinate. 

Thankfully, sneaking up from behind and watering The Boy still entertains me to no end.

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When very little else last night was coming together with minimal effort, at least dinner was–this soup took ten minutes, and the hardest thing about it was cooking the brown rice I served alongside it.  Quick as a flash!

Which, of course, makes me think of The Flash.

In my ignorance of such important details, I’d always assumed The Flash’s superpower was his ability to intimidate and disgust by getting naked really quickly. 

Whatever, the name’s really ambiguous, all right?  

APPARENTLY, The Flash is actually more about doing important things super speedily.  Here I would just like to interject that under the right circumstances, getting naked to intimidate and disgust could be considered an important activity.

Look, I’m not saying The Flash went around flashing people to get his jollies.  I’m just saying he could have, if he’d wanted to.  And his wanting to is not that far-fetched a concept.  I mean, what if The Evil Doctor Whatshisface, turned psychotic by his disfiguring childhood accident while doing…whatever…, decided to hold the Mayor Blahington III of Somewheresville hostage, and if people didn’t turn over X natural resource, which was the only missing component to Doctor Whatshisface’s new mind-control thingy that runs on insert obscure crystal here, Doctor Whatshisface would kill the Mayor Blahington III, who’d been the only man capable of cleaning up the effed up streets of Somewheresville when they’d been overrun by violent gangsters and warlords who it turns out–GASP!–were actually henchmen of Doctor Whatshisface, and OMG, this comic just got soooo deep!?  The Flash could’ve probably zoomed in on Doctor Whathisface’s ass and been all, Hey, check this out, and Doctor Whatshisface would’ve been all, Lol, The Flash, you think you’re so cool, well not even you can save–OH SWEET GOD IN HEAVEN PUT THAT AWAY!!–and he’d be so intimidated and disgusted that The Flash would have time to zip up his little pleather suit and make off with Mayor Blahington III.

So about that recipe! 

Thai Coconut Curry Soup with Shrimp

Go Get:
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (I had the frozen, ready to go kind on hand…YES!)
1 can coconut milk
3 cups fish stock or chicken broth
2 Tablespoons red curry paste (The Boy and I like it hot, but you might want to start with 1 and work up from there if you’re not sure)
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
2 Tablespoons lime juice
2 Tablespoons oyster sauce
2 Tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 cup carrot slices
1 cup snow pea pods or green bean segments
healthy handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

Go Do:
Cook your rice or whatever you’re serving alongside, as the soup will come together quickly.  Put stock, ginger, and lime juice into a large pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and add the coconut milk, oyster sauce, fish sauce, curry paste, and vegetables.  Cook, covered, until vegetables are crisp-tender (keep an eye on this–it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes).  Throw in the shrimp and continue to simmer until the shrimp is just cooked through, around 3 to 4 minutes.  Toss in the cilantro.  No joke, you’re done.  Taste it to make sure the heat level is up your alley, and then ladle it up, serve alongside a healthy scoop of rice, and ponder the power of nakedness.

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We are heaven-sent.  We will make all your problems disappear.  The answers to all of life’s questions lie in this cookie jar.  Yes, we are talking cookies, and yes, we are now controlling your miiiiiiind.

Do you guys ever get the feeling that your food is…you know…talking to you?

Okay, well, maybe it’s just me.  But man, I could’ve sworn those delicious little cookies sitting on the counter were, well, beseeching me to do their bidding.  No?  You’ve never felt like that?


You are nothing without us!  We can give you everything your heart desires!  We look so inviting!  Inviting and, yet, off-limits!  Irresistible we are!  Make us now!

About a week ago, the Boy’s sister (the Girl) came into town to stay with us and attend a ridiculous, poorly-organized corporate conference and spend some good times catching up.  And eating.  She is a Chicago-born expat living in St. Paul, after all.  So while the week certainly didn’t lack for good beer, great Italian beefs, and phenomenal pizza, I felt we needed a little something extra.  Like, something with a lot of butter in it.  And sugar.  That’s also rolled in more sugar.  Enter the pecan sandies.

Yum, yum, yum–if there was ever a recipe that made me wanna find out how to turn everything I make into a slice-and-bake deal, it’s this one.  I mean, what could be easier than six ingredients thrown together, rolled into a log, chilled, and then sliced up anytime you need a cookie fix?  Of course, I didn’t wait for the fix, opting to bake mine all at once instead.  But wouldn’t it be great to just keep a few short rolls of these cookies in the freezer for, you know, like, a cookie emergency?  As an added bonus, it’s practically effortless to make all these cookies the exact same size and shape, and the dough is incredibly forgiving and resists burning.  I wonder what the cookies have to say about that?


Take us to your leader!

Man, you can never count on a cookie to stay on-topic.

Mind Control Pecan Sandies

Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened (the best non-local, grocery brand you can get is Kerrygold–it’s imported from Ireland, where they know how to treat their dairy cows)
3/4 cup powdered sugar, plus more for rolling
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups chopped pecans

Directions:
Beat the butter mercilessly with 3/4 cup powdered sugar and the vanilla.  Really go at it until it’s nice and fluffy.  I don’t have a hand mixer (I know–shocker!  I really find beating the shit out of something with a wooden spoon to be therapeutic.  If you’re not up to merciless, it would probably only take you two minutes with an electric mixer.)  In a separate bowl, mix the salt, flour, and nuts.  Add this dry mixture into the wet mixture in thirds, beating well between each addition.  Take the dough out of the bowl and work it with your hands until you can roll it into two thin logs, maybe about an inch and a half in diameter.  Roll the logs in waxed paper and stick ’em in the fridge for at least an hour. (OR, at this point you can stick the logs in the freezer for future use).

When you’re ready to start baking, preheat the oven to 350.  Unwrap the dough logs and use a sharp, heavy knife to cut 1/4 inch thick slices of dough, placing them maybe half an inch apart on parchment-lined cookie sheets.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes (until the cookie tops start to get golden on the edges).  Take them out and pour some powdered sugar into a decent-sized bowl.  Drop the hot cookies, a few at a time, into the powdered sugar, and roll them around until they’re nicely coated.  Then place them on cooling racks.  Repeat until you’re done rolling all the cookies, working quickly so as to prevent the hot cookies from cooling off before they’re rolled (the heat helps the sugar to bond to the cookies).  Once you’re sure they’re all cool as cucumbers, feel free to pack them into cookie tins or mason jars, as I did, and let the mind control begin!

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