Saturday, December 28, 2013

This should have peppers

I saw a short, annoying video about how to make shukshaka, which is a north african dish. The woman in the video had such irritating mannerisms that I'm not going to link to it. I'll just tell you about the food instead, which was just like this, but with bell peppers in the sauce. I have no peppers today and I don't have much else in the house either. This was quick and uses the kind of things that are left at the end of the week after I've eaten everything else, but before I go shopping.

1 onion
a generous amount of olive oil
a bunch of salt
lots of black pepper
some smoked paprika, maybe half a teaspoon?
a bay leaf
a sprig of rosemary

some garlic
1 /2 large can chopped tomatoes, or a whole small can if you have that.

a number of eggs

Pre heat the oven to 450.

Thinly slice the onion, and saute it in an oven safe skillet with the oil, salt, pepper, paprika and herbs. When the onions are a little brown and caramelized, chop up as many garlic cloves as you prefer. I used 2. Add those to the pan and let them cook for about a minute. Add the tomatoes, cover the pan and simmer for about 5 minutes. Taste for seasonings, give it a stir, and crack on some eggs. Mine is a 10 inch pan, and I used 4 eggs, but the number is up to you. Bake for 6 minutes, serve with some bread or something. If you put some greens on the plate, it will look a lot fancier.


1. Don't put the garlic in the pan at the beginning with the onions. It will just burn and taste bitter.
2. The original recipe says to saute some red bell peppers in with the onions, but I kinda like it this way. It's simple.
3. I made toast to go with it, but I bet it would be good over noodles too. Or rice.
4. When they come out of the oven, the whites will still be a little jiggly. If you like them that way, eat them at once, otherwise, let them stand for one minute. The sauce is so hot it will continue to cook the eggs for quite a while, just dish them up when they reach the stage you want.
5. In the summer when fresh tomatoes are cheaper, you could use those and I bet it would taste great. You might have to cook them a little longer before you add the eggs though.

I think the smoked paprika is key to making this recipe come out right, especially since there are no bell peppers in it. Smoked paprika is usually mildly spicy, but not cayenne level hot, and you can still distinctly taste the sweet pepper flavor too. You can be fairly generous without overpowering everything else in the dish. The smokiness of different batches varies somewhat, I've discovered, so you'll need to adjust the amount you use based on how much smoky flavor you want relative to how much spicy and how much bell pepper flavor. It's interesting stuff.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry %$#@#ing Blah Blah!


I am bah humbug, but David really wanted a hermit crab. I will name it Hubert.


Hubert expresses my mood, which, while not exactly disagreeable, is not at all festive.

Well this is just humiliating.

 I do not like this kind of sillyness, but I am willing to acknowledge that other people do enjoy such things.

C'mere an say that t'ma face, son!

I don't wish anybody ill of the season, I just want you to know that I find most of the usual ceremonial observances terribly off-putting.

Does this butt make my shell look big?

I offer to encourage you in your particular enjoyment, in exchange for being allowed to go on much as I do any other day of the year. With more sleep. And more cookies, probably more cookies.

this message approved by the admiral.

Happy Christmakwanzaakha.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Most Frustrating Project in the World


Among other things that Mom sent me last year was a large piece of coral-peach colored silk chiffon. It's just the most lovely stuff ever. I have a pattern for a blouse that is probably from the mid 1960's, and I thought it would be perfect for that, what with the ruffles and all. The chiffon is super soft, and the shade of pink is flattering, I was all excited.

Yup. Sheer.
Then I decided the pattern needed fixing. I originally thought I'd be able to use a single layer of fabric, but I didn't like the idea of having all the seams show, because the material isn't just slightly sheer, it is totally transparent. So I thought that I'd use a double layer. So, twice as much cutting.

Then I decided that I don't like the straight ruffles that the pattern came with. I wanted circular ruffles. So, cutting bias shapes. Twice each.

Finally, I decided that if I was going to double layer the material, I might as well get rid of the button front and make it a pull over. That may well have been my only wise decision.

Cutting silk chiffon is a bitch. It wiggles around on the cutting board like a sea salp with palsy. It sticks to itself. It is so fine that it is nearly impossible to pick up. It takes static cling like you wouldn't believe. You have to iron it with extreme caution, or you will cook it to death. And the thing that made me want to wear it the most, the drapey, soft, squishy texture, makes it nearly impossible to be sure that when it's laying down, the grain of the cloth really is straight.

I think this vexed thing has been in pieces on my table since late July or early august, and it is only just now beginning to look like a shirt.

There is one thing that I am still pretty geeked about though. I figured out a method for making the bust darts in 2 layers of this most irritating material.

1. Using a fine, slippery thread, baste down the center line of the dart.

2. With the same kind of thread, baste across the width of the dart, making sure that each stitch is the same length on each side of the dart, as in the picture.

3. Grab both ends of the basting thread and pull it taut.

The description doesn't make a lot of sense, so here is a little video.

Ta Dah!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Pellets! With Lemons and Leaves!

This summer, David and I had this approximate conversation.

Him: I'm interested in learning how to cook those...pellets. 

Me: (elipsis)

Him: You make indian food out of them... You boil them...They turn into soup...

Me (further elipsis)

Him: They're little, and round. I don't know what they are.

Me: You mean beans?

Him: No! They're flat.

Me: Lentils. (hysterical laughter) "Pellets"!

Him: Whatever. They come in different colors.

Now I tease him by saying I'm going to feed him pellets for dinner. This is a good recipe for soup made out of pellets which I made because there is a cafe downtown that serves something very similar to it. It's particularly nice on a rotten rainy day. I eat it with bread and butter.

1 cup of pellets, the orange kind
1 onion, cut up rather fine
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon turmeric, optional, but fun
1 small carrot, cut into 1/2 inch bits
1/2 cup user-defined* leaves
juice of a lemon

Put the pellets in a large-ish pot. Rinse them several times to get rid of any dust or foreign objects. Add about 8 cups of water, the onion, bay leaf, cumin, turmeric, and salt & pepper. If you want a slightly richer flavor, add a pat of butter or a couple tablespoons of olive oil.

Bring to a medium boil for about 20 minutes, or until the pellets start to dissolve, then add the carrots and leaves. Taste for salt. Boil until the pellets are totally dissolved, and the soup is as thick as you want it. If it starts getting too thick, just add a little more water. 

Right before serving, add the lemon juice.

*User-defined leaves: I have used frozen chopped spinach, and leftover "baby power greens", whatever those were. Spinach is usually what is found in lentil soup, but there is no reason you could not use kale, chard, baby bok choi, arugula, lambs quarters, purslane, or any number of other things, as long as you remember that some leaves take longer to cook and have slightly more pronounced flavors.