March 2012 Archives

Lodge Enameled Dutch Oven

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For years, Fuzzy and I have lusted over a Le Creuset dutch oven. They are so pretty! You can cook anything in them! But they are so damn expensive--ranging from a couple hundred dollars to several hundred dollars.

A few months ago, I was talking to my bestie Erica about them, and she asked what color I would choose if I were to make the investment. I told her I would choose the cobalt blue.

Fuzzy and I love cast iron cooking...we have 2 sizes of skillets and a bacon press, and all 3 of these items get a lot of use. Whenever we are at a WalMart, we go drool over the Lodge Cast Iron section, and try to add pieces to our collection here and there. Fuzzy recently mentioned that Lodge has an enameled cookware collection, and that we should remember to look into it. On Sunday, we made a quick run to Target, and I was looking at ramekins, when there they a beacon in the night...the enameled dutch ovens. They had 2 colors: red and--wait for it--cobalt. And it was only $60. $60! A great price for something that we wanted and from a brand we trust. So we brought it home...and boy, is it glorious.

Lodge enameled Dutch oven

Oh, the things I am going to cook in it!

Shrimp Boil!

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I'll be the first to admit that I have a lot of favorite foods. What can I say? I love food! One of said favorites is peel and eat shrimp, and I cannot believe that I've waited almost 33 years to try to make it at home. I've started keeping frozen raw shrimp in my freezer, because it makes an easy pasta sauce with some butter and veggies thrown in. So one night, I wanted something different to eat, and I found this webpage on Once Upon a Chef and I was amazed as to how easy that it could be. I had all the ingredients! Let's get to it!

First, run the shrimp under cold running water to thaw it out. Note--I accidentally purchased small shrimp--next time, I'll make sure I get the big guys.

Next, melt some butter in a pan with some beer and Old Bay Seasoning. I don't measure things, so just add as much as you like.

Now, maybe this is more liquid than you need, but who cares.

Now onto the cocktail sauce! All you need is ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper.

Again, just add ingredients till it tastes like how you want it.


At this point, the shrimp should be ready! When everything is pink and looks done--try one out and see. Fish them out of the cooking liquid and let them cool!

Get ready for some awesome!

Salad Days

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Yesterday, our internet was out for several hours, so after wandering the house aimlessly for a while, I decided to do some cooking! Hooray! I had a giant cucumber that I wanted to do something with, so I decided to make a cucumber salad. I also wanted to recreate a salad I am obsessed with at Metropolis, so I double saladed at the same time, one Greek and one Japanese.

The first step in cooking is always pour yourself a drink. I enjoyed a Schlafly's Citrus Witbier. I swear, I took a photo of this beer when it was full, but I can't find it, so this will have to do.

The way I cook is that I look at a bunch of recipes online, and then I mix them up to accomodate the things that I have in my kitchen and how easy they are. I rarely use one whole recipe (except when baking), so I was all over the place with these.

I started by chopping up some of the cucumber, and some kalamata olives in half. This is a quinoa salad, and I love quinoa, but I only had a half cup left. It turned out to be a good amount.
Making some salads

One of the recipes for cucumber salad that I saw said to peel the cuke in alternating stripes. I was like "What? This is a step? LAME." and then later ended up doing it. It was fun.
Making some salads
Ooh, blurry photos, folks. Sorry about that.

The next step was to cut in half and scoop the seeds out. I like to use a grapefruit spoon for my seed-scooping needs, cause it has the little scrapey end of the spoon.
Making some salads

Making some salads

Then chop into thin slices!
Making some salads
Fuzzy and I once took a knife skills class, and I was so bad at it, Fuzzy was nervous for me (the fact I was pounding wine that night didn't help). Whenever Fz sees me chopping things in the kitchen, he's like "Soft claw! Soft Claw!" Look at me now, world!!

Making some salads

The quinoa is done!
Making some salads
I let it cool for a bit.

How's that beer doing?
Making some salads

I thin sliced about a half of an onion, and added about a tablespoon or 2 of roasted sesame seeds.
Making some salads

Next came the vinaigrette!
All the recipes called for rice vinegar, but I didn't have any. I used red wine vinegar instead, about 2 tablespoons (plus a little more), 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, a teaspoon of sesame oil, a half teaspoon of sugar, and some salt and pepper.

Making some salads

Making some salads
Done! Delish!

Back to Greece!
I added the cooled quinoa to the cukes and olives.
Making some salads

Check out my spoon! It's a smiley face!
Making some salads
He looks like he has teeth!

I then added a lot of feta, like a half container maybe?
Making some salads

The salad at Metropolis has dill in it, but we didn't have any dill. So I used fresh fennel greens! It looks the same.
Making some salads

Then I added a bit of salt and pepper (though it didn't need salt--the olives and feta were salty enough).
Making some salads

Done! IT IS SO GOOD! Fuzzy and I ate most of it right then and there.

How did that beer hold up?
Making some salads


A Tale of Two Coffeepots

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When Fuzzy and I got married, one of the best gifts we received was a Bialetti Aluminum Stovetop Espresso Pot from our friends Becky and Andy. We didn't register for it, so we didn't know what to do with it at first. Becky and Andy were visionaries--they knew we would love it before we did--and now we use it all the time. I will most always choose espresso over regular coffee, so our Bialetti has been through the ringer over the years. Especially when we got our milk frothing methods down to a science.

The pot we have is I think a 4 cup pot or something, and we all know how a "cup" in coffee terms is something teeny-tiny like 6 oz. And if you are someone like me, you always want a LOT of coffee, so we were finding that we were making multiple pots of coffee on the weekends. We decided that it was time to upgrade and get a larger pot.

One night, after a meal at the Clybourn Goose Island and working on our MBAs (Masters of Beer Appreciation--you drink a certain number of beers, you get your name on a plaque. I can't WAIT to get my name on that plaque.), we found ourselves a little too inebriated to drive home. So we did the only logical thing--we went shopping at the Patagonia and Bed Bath and Beyond that share a parking lot with the brewery!!!  As we were standing in the coffee pot aisle, we were looking at the different size pots, and I was opening the boxes to see how big each one was. The cup sizes (sexy) aren't listed on the sides of the boxes, so we were going on looks only. I picked out a nice size pot, but Fuzzy said it looked too big and that we would probably end up wasting a lot of coffee (though I wouldn't throw it out--I would put the leftover espresso in the fridge for homemade iced lattes.) He picked out one that we thought looked like a 6 cup pot--not too much more, but a little wider, so it would satisfy our need for "just a little more coffee."  We agreed that I would take the smaller pot to work with me, so to guarantee the quality of my morning coffees.

That weekend, we excitedly put the pot to work. I made a lot of milk foam for the cappuccinos, and when we drank it, it just tasted more milky. We had such high expectations, and we were just a little...not impressed. We made lots of "Huh" and "Hrmm" sounds. We tried again the next day....and we still didn't have enough coffee. We were like "well, one cup extra each is a negligible difference." We were determined to be excited by our newest kitchen addition.

One weekend morning, while I was lolling about in the tub, which is one of my favorite activities on the planet, my amazing darling husband came in with a cappuccino for me (sidenote: I cannot tell you how amazing this is....sometimes while I am in my "hot water room", Fuzzy will bring me coffee or beer or wine to enjoy. It's just about the closest thing to Heaven on Earth that I can imagine....Ok, well, maybe if the bathtub was full of kittens, it would be MORE like Heaven to me.). Settling the coffee on the sink basin he says "That new coffee pot we bought? Yeah, it's the same size as the other one. It's just a lot shinier."

Same size, just shinier.

Here is proof:

A tale of 2 coffee pots

What's the moral here? Don't drink and shop? Trust your wife's instincts when she picks something out? Drink less coffee? Who knows.  But the last time I made coffee at home, I made it in both pots, and put the leftover coffee in the fridge and had a kickass iced latte a few days later.

(Originally posted on

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