Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Kitchen: The Sustenance

To make sure none of us starved to death while beating the kitchen into submission, I made Black Bean Soup (before the stove was removed) and BBQ Apricot Chicken in the slow cooker on Saturday.

Dramatically lit ingredients
Black Bean Soup

- Originally based on the Black Bean Soup recipe from The America's Test Kitchen Cookbook.  Best cookbook ever, everyone should have it.  It has never led me astray.

Bowl One:
1-2 onions, chopped fine
6 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
1-2 habaneros, no seeds or veins, chopped fine[*]
The original recipe calls for 1 jalapeno, which is also super yummy.  Despite the peppers, this is not a particularly spicy soup.

Bowl Two:
Spices!  I pretty much change this everytime.
2 tsp Cumin
a few hearty shakes of coriander
a few hearty shakes of powdered red pepper
The original recipe called for 2 tsp of chili powder, which I promptly ran out of and keep forgetting to buy more of.

Dumping the last bits in.
Bowl Three:
3 cans black beans (rinsed) (I keep meaning to use dry bean and soak, etc, but I totally messed up the last batch)
1 can garbanzo beans (rinsed)
4 c. broth (one of those aseptic boxes is perfect).  Veggie if you want to keep it vegan/parve or chicken.
1.5 c hot water (Since I haven't managed to soak beans, I hear reserving the soak liquid adds lots of flavor and will be trying it)
1/2 tsp salt
The original recipe just called for black beans, but I like the garbanzo.

Standing by:
1 can of corn, drained

Seriously, note the gloves.  
You will be so much happier.
Bust out your stock/soup pot!  Throw some olive oil and heat it up, medium heat.  I end up using around a TBSP of oil, or more, but I so don't measure.  Once it's popping, dump in bowl one (onion, garlic, pepper) and cook until soft (5ish mins).  Dump in bowl two (spices) and stir.  Cook for another min.  Dump in bowl three, broth, hot water and salt.  Simmer for 20 mins or so.  It really doesn't hurt it if it goes on longer.

Now, I use an immersion blender (the stick thingys you just plop into the soup), but you could also just blend and return to the pot.  Or skip this step entirely, although I really like the texture and thickness it gives.  I blend it pretty completely, cause I don't like bits of onion, although I love the taste.
What you will be left with.

Dump in corn, let warm up for 5 mins.

Serve with a little cheese, or sour cream.  Some tortilla strips would be yummy.  mmmmm.

Reheats wonderfully in the crockpot the next day.

[*] Have you ever worked with hot peppers?  I cut them last of everything and then: Gloves.  There is nothing sadder than rubbing pepper juice on your nose.  Wash your board and knife right away, then peel off the gloves and trash.

Apricot BBQ Chicken
Originally based on a wings recipe from Crockpot 365. But I didn't want wings. And I changed the ratio completely.  Pretty much just based on the name.

2 packages of boneless, skinless chicken thighs (from CostCo, so about 10 thighs total).  Partially thawed, but would have been fine frozen.
1 jar of apricot jam (I think it was 19oz.)
Random BBQ sauce from my fridge (1 jars worth).
Dash of hot sauce (tabasco type thing)

Dump chicken in bottom of slow cooker.  Grab spatula and empty jam into pot.  Use jar as measure for bbq sauce[*].  Splash in hot sauce.  Stir.  Cook on low for 8 hours or until chicken is done.

Now, I think there is something wrong with my crockpot because on low it was boiling, and I thought I'd ruined it.  But it actually just caramelized on the chicken and was really good.  I do think it needed a little salt and probably a more hot sauce or something to cut the sweetness a little more.  Probably some chili powder or cumin to add a little more depth.

[*]  Since I live in NC now, I should be specific: NOT A VINEGAR BASED BBQ SAUCE.  Although that would probably totally work.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Living in a Lemon Kitchen

First of all, this never would have been accomplished without our amazing and wonderful friends.  Thank you to Viv, Raymond, Morgan and Beth!  I honestly can't thank them enough.  They all rock.

Edited to add: Don't miss the recipes that kept the party going all weekend long! Black Bean Soup and Apricot BBQ Chicken.

In the beginning, there was green, and it was a very bad, sad dank thing.

What we started with (already started clearing pot rack and shelves out)

Isn't that green something else?  It's not just color we didn't like, it's also a really weird texture.  They did some sort of scraper that I guess was to give it more texture (which...why? It's already a pretty lumpy plaster) but really just made it look extra sad.

The very dated cabinets.  You don't get the full effect since we already pulled the doors out.
The wood, in and off itself isn't all that bad.  But with the whitish peeling cabinets and the nasty filth catchers (seriously, worst. design. ever) it was not a good look.

The work technically began on Fri night with Morgan and Beth and the unloading/shifting/etc.

Saturday morning painting began!  Here is a time lapse video Scott took of the first layer of primer going down.  Note to the world: green sucks to cover and dark green?  UGH!  3 coats of primer, and really we probably could have stood a 4th.

Drawers and doors, stripped naked and awaiting their fate.

Filth catchers being filled with wood putty.  They are still drying, so it will be a few days before the doors go back up.

And now, the big reveal...

Evening, random light, appliances starting to reappear!

Cabinets! And their lovely new contact paper (Thanks Vivvie!)
Cabinets, walls and window!

View from dining room

View from living room

Photobucket Keeping It SimplePolly Wanna Crafter!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Kitchen Kickoff

The day I've been dreading has come.

We're actually going to paint the kitchen.

I've chosen a cheery yellow (Sweet Chamomile) for the walls. A glossy bright white for the cabinets.

Tonight I'm making some black bean soup and then...we shall empty the kitchen. We'll be able to get the butcher blocks and shelves out. I have no idea if we'll be able to move the appliances.  The idea of dealing with the gas connections gives me agita.

Tomorrow, we paint.

I don't have any good kitchen before pics with me right now, but the kiln pic shows there terrifying green we're covering.  But while right now I am SO unexcited about starting the project, I know how incredible my kitchen is going to look, and how much nicer it will make my whole house.  I just have to get into the guts of it, and it will be fine!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I am the one that ruins your holiday spirit (at work).

I don't want to listen to Christmas music (it's not even Thanksgiving yet, so triple that sentiment) at work.


I know people like to spout the 'it's a secular holiday' line at me...except, it's not. There are parts that are more secular than others, and definitely parts that are ingrained in our culture. And hey, I love the hell out of the light shows. But when you are caroling about the baby Jesus...that ain't secular.

But at work, I don't want to hear holiday music. Ever.

Some of it is retail-based flashbacks. I remember the year we got TWO different CDs we could (rather *had* to) play OVER AND OVER AGAIN FOR THREE MONTHS. It was only marginally better than a single CD.

I just don't want to be bombarded with Jesus for 8+ hours a day. Is that such a terrible thing?

Edited to add: OH MY GOD, I have found my holiday spirit. I want to shit in Frosty's head (and for the best price possible)!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Frozen thighs

So, I have a crockpot recipe that I'm planning on semi experimenting with. BBQ Apricot Chicken. Sounds pretty tasty, right? I have gathered my ingredients, so I will be prepared in the morning!

Except...the packet of frozen chicken that I pulled from the freezer last night is still frozen sold. Not one iota of thawing. If I flung these frosty thighs at your head, it would knock you the fuck out.

Apparently I have a magic freezer.

Adopt a Penguin!

So, my awesome friend Pinguino is heading to Antarctica in 2 days!  She is an amazing artist who is doing an 'adopt a penguin' postcard thingy:
Over the past couple years, Pinguino has been sketching penguin postcards specifically to mail from Antarctica. We’ve arranged it with our ship that you will get an Antarctica postmark as we send them from Port Lockroy, Antarctica. Each postcard is numbered and signed. They are hand-drawn and hand-colored. They each have names and unique identities, and is documented online. Please support our trip by adopting your very own penguin postcard.
Be awesome and get your post card now!  She's only taking them til mid-morning on Wednesday!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Kitchen plans!

I adore my little pink 1930s house, but there are downsides to living in quaint little old houses.  The electrical is a hot mess (glass fuses and some dimmer boxes, totally random).  The front of the house is basically on one fuse. The who lived here before us had some interesting ideas on color and paint application.  With the help of friends, we've mostly beat back the worst rooms (the dining room was truly horrifying).

But the kitchen...we've let it kind of fester.  It's an odd dark dark green, the application has an odd texture that just makes it look poorly painted.  Which maybe it is and I'm just being generous.  The layout is barely workable.  Few cabinets, even less counter space.  The cabinets are very dated looking, and the thin melamine is coming off.

The base plan:
1.  Paint kitchen cheery shade of light bright yellow.
2.  Paint cabinet bases glossy bright white.
3.  Tackle cabinet doors by peeling off gross melamine, filling the 'filth catchers', adding beadboard and molding to make panels and painting glossy bright white.
4.  Replace light fixture.

Slightly extended plans
5.  Make green glass cabinet knobs (recycled beer bottles!)
6. Cabinets and/or shelving for over butcher blocks 'counters' (and clear crap off)
7.  Make pantry more workable.

Really extended plans:
8.  Make green glass thin subway style tiles for backsplash.

Super extended kitchen plans:
1.  Gut the fucker and start over!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Not dead! Just sleeping....

I have decided to become painfully ill this week!  I have pictures for any number of EXCITING! POSTS! but when I'm not slogging through work, I'm sleeping.

I have managed to get my NaNoWriMo word count up to 127!  I wish that were a typo.

I did make a really killer soup this weekend, that was also pretty darn simple.  Recipe to follow, uhm, one day?

I am almost religious about my yin/yang combo of NyQuil/DayQuil (one of the very few cold meds that don't make me literally crazy), so while I'm weak and miserable I am at least a lot less boogery than I could be.  Plus I kind of love the taste of original NyQuil.  Mmmm, chasing the green dragon!  Scott has been really exceptional about how awesome he's been despite the fact that I am a BIG WHINY BABY about the whole thing.

I ate an orange today at lunch, why aren't I already healthy, dammit!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Scattered Thoughts

  • It's painful, but really, not the end of the world.  I hope all the people heading to Washington are willing to actually talk and LISTEN to each other.  I'd like to think that we're all basically good people who want the best.  Yes, plenty of people and things suck. But let's retire the words 'traitor' and 'fascist'.  I tend to be pretty strident in my views, so I'm going to try being more thoughtful in my personal responses.  Although, I admit I find it unlikely to have my mind changed on certain things. But you probably won't convince me if you're busy calling me a traitor.
  • Why am I procrastinating so very much with starting NaNoWriMo?  Although the year I finished was the year I did it all in the last week.  Because apparently I am that person.
  • Today is fired, and I'm really sad.
  • I am looking forward to next week, and having more time to work on my glass and other stuff.  Although what that means is I will probably continue to neglect my NaNo.  Maybe I can procrastinate with each of the things I want to work on.

  • My stomach as been really weird lately.  It's been making me put off starting my iron supplements again, since it makes me so ill for the first few weeks.  But I'm getting that bone weary exhaustion that clued me into the anemia in the first place, and falling asleep at 8pm kinda sucks.

  • I had an amazing sandwich last night.  It was the Black Eyed Pea Burger at Tobacco Road by the DPAC/DAP.  Turns out it's vegan as well.  And seriously delish.  It did tend to squish out of the bun, so there was corralling needed around the edges.  But it had a lovely flavor and texture.  Considering it's a sports bar, the food is really good and reasonably priced.  Oh, and Tuesday nights are $2.50 pint night! I abstained because of my weird tummy issues, but local brews were had all around me.  And they are open til 2am!  There are a zillion TVs everywhere, which is a bit distracted for those of us who are attracted to all the blinky lights.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


No matter your political flavor, please vote.  It's the basis on which democracy runs.
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