Monday, June 23, 2008

In the Mud with Kiki

Ok, so it isn't really mud right now, but it was a one point. Actually, a couple different points it was mud. Last week I even brought my camera to the studio to have my picture taken while I was working. Twice. I even remembered that I had it one day, and asked someone to take my picture once I started working. We both forgot. But this really is pottery that I made with my own 2 hands.

The group shot, hangin' out on the love seat.

This is the big casserole. It may not look so big to you, but trust me, when you are wrestling that clay, it is HUGE!

Next we have the little brother. It's still not very little. The glaze is a little thin on this one, but I'm ok with it.

Look, it is a little family of prep bowls. Done in manly colors, for my B-I-L. The glaze turned out a little funky because it was fired in a different kiln (yes, that does make a big difference) so I'm not sure if I'll make another set for him. I have time, his birthday isn't until August. If I try to make another set how can I be sure
they will nest so nicely?

Well, this isn't mud, but I will share what I had for dinner tonight.
Barbeque Chicken Pizza. On the grill. I finally got at least a little picture.
I made pizzas on Friday night (no, I didn't have my Solstice Party, but at least I had some friends over for pizza and beer) I was a little wiser this time, I didn't make everything at once. I did a couple small batches so we wouldn't eat too much or leave too much. So today, I grabbed a hunk of dough out of the freezer (already rolled out) and threw it on the grill then threw the toppings on. I'm not sure if it would have been less crispy if I let the dough thaw a little more, but it was still pretty tasty for a super quick dinner while HP was in class.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Show & Tell

Today is show-n-tell day here on the Kiki Blog. So, a few random things that make me happy.

In no particular order, fashion or organization. (Kind of like my life)

French "fries" on the grill, that turned out almost perfect! (Yukon Gold!)

I seriously love the look on this little girls face. I recently lent a hand to someone who was teaching a workshop to preschool children of Migrant workers. Small kids with little or no English, but a ball of clay and lots of enthusiasm. We were lucky that we had help from a friend in the corner of the picture! These were the cutest, best-behaved little people, ever.

My hydrangea last week.

My hydrangea today. I'm so excited! I've had this plant for 5 or 6 years, it is now in it's third location, and finally I'm getting my bloom out of it! (I can't complain, I got it on clearance for $6 or $8 after it had been forced for Mother's Day. I'm just glad it lived!)

The daycare across the way has a bounce house. You have no idea how much self-control it took to keep me out of this!

My grapelings. I love having a grape arbor in the back yard. Sadly, these are not really wine grapes. They are concord and I don't care for sweet wines, besides the birds and squirrels usually get the grapes before me! Still, it is so nice to grab a grape of the vine at the end of summer when they are ripened, and the sweet smell of grapes when the burst into ripening. Plus, all the fun I have cooking with the leaves!

Hubby Poo in the garden. I've already enjoying the herbs, I can't wait for the tomatoes!

My babies! My niece & nephew, whom I adore!


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Further Adventures with Kiki

In my house, I don't limit my adventures to just culinary escapades. I also like to include the occasional curious libation. This weekend's adventure:
While searching for my summer roll wrappers (which I did find something that seems to be working, but no I haven't gotten those pictures yet)

HP: It was like Cream Soda & Peanut Butter in the blender. I was fascinated by its frothiness
The Girl: It's thick
The Girl's new beau: Uhh, it is ok
The Boy: I didn't agree to this. I'm not going to try it. You guys go ahead.
Kiki: It's not bad. Kind of like a peanut butter ripple milkshake, but not quite. Come on Boy, don't you want to try just a taste?
The Boy: NO! I'm going outside.

And there you have it. Your first on the street soft drink review, for the next time you find yourself in an odd little Jamaican-Hispanic-Oriental-Fresh Fish-We've Got Plants Market and you are in the mood for something thick and Peanut Buttery.

My wrap rut is continuing. I thought it was just a phase, but I believe that I have turned the corner into rut. If it's edible, wrap it:

I made a few summer rolls, but I never had a chance to take a picture. I thought I got a picture of the wrapper, but my camera card occasionally decides that it doesn't want to be read, so as far as I know I don't have a photo. Yet. The package has about 30 (I think) of these little wedge shaped wrap things, so I still have time. I'm not sure about the pictures though, they need a lot of attention.

I had to trim back the grape vines. Again. They were into the neighbor's yard and over the hedge so my clippers and I had a date. But, the grape leaves are still fairly young and thusly fairly tender, so I blanched a few of those bad boys and filled them up and grilled them.
The filling is Goat Cheese (like that surprises anyone) sun-dried tomatoes, random fresh herbs from the garden, a little chopped garlic and some chopped toasted walnuts. Form that into a log, wrap it up, oil her up, chill for a short time and roll them onto the grill. The recipe says that you unwrap the grape leaves and smear the cheese on little toast points or something like that. The kids prefer to pop them in their mouth as is, in one bite. If your leaves are blanched to the point of being very tender, (go past the pretty bright green stage into the canned green bean color and your fine) and you coat them in olive oil there is an earthy, yummy-grapey taste to them.

The final "wrap of the week" was the Father's Day fish tacos. HP & the kids spent about a year trying to convince me that fish tacos were good. (They just didn't sound right) Now they have regular appearances on our table. Sometimes we use grilled fish and sometimes we do beer-batter fried fish. Beer Batter is simple and crunchy and really very simple. How simple?
  • 1 12-oz can of beer. use a decent one, we use Lager
  • 1 1/2 cups of AP flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix. Have some beer for yourself. Dip your fish in and fry it up. We used tilapia cut into small fish tenders. Sunday's fillings were:
  • Mango-black bean salsa
  • Guacamole
  • Fresh greens, with little flowers in it from the farmer's market
  • Chipotle-Ancho "Aioli" (ok, it's just a sauce I make with mayo & sour cream, but the girl hates mayo, so we don't tell her that is a major ingredient. She loves this)
  • cheese. just the regular Mexi-mix. no goat cheese, I swear. We usually use Queso Fresco or Queso blanco, but the ethnic Price-Rite closed right before I got there and the Giant didn't have any. (rrrrrr)
It is a fill & wrap your own deal, so all I need to do is prep. HP does the salsa & guac. He does them both really well, so why should I mess with it.

I think on Friday night, I'm going to make this. Just because it isn't a wrap. And it tastes really good!


Monday, June 16, 2008

Random Things

Happy Day after Father's Day!

A few random things about my Dad.

He is a pretty neat guy.

He can cook.
He has been known to brew his own beer.
He graduated to making his own wine.
His wine has won gold & silver awards at the National AWS Convention.
When I was little I thought he drove a train at one point (he told me he was an Engineer)
He was really doing things that helped our country.
When I was really little, he would go on long trips to Germany and stay for a couple months at a time.
We would record "letters" on cassette tape and send them to him, and he would record them back.
He was always involved in the community.
He took us camping.
One time when we asked where we were going, his repeated answers were "We are going nuts" or "Bananas" We were really going to the Sweetest Place on Earth.
He got choked up at my wedding, even though he was joking all the way there.
He is one of the smartest people I know.
He didn't have the discipline to finish college, so he joined the army.
He met my mom at a church based camp where he knew everyone except 2 women.
My mom always said he flipped a coin to decide which one he would ask out.
He said, "Nawwwwwww" then he would whisper, "It was a manhole cover"
My sister & I used to torture him by removing one sock. Only one.
He put up with us.
He stood by me when my life went to hell.
My niece and nephew call him Opa.
He has a really good head of hair!


Thursday, June 12, 2008

As promised

After hours of trying to convince flickr to upload my pictures. (pretty please with garlic on top? no, how about bananas on top? sugar on top?)
I am back with the photo version of dinner.
The big bag of banana leaves.

They are long too!

The achiote paste was made with achiote (annatto) seeds, cumin, cinnamon, pepper, cloves, and allspice (maybe some more things, I don't remember) then mixed with OJ, lime juice, garlic,a bay leaf and maybe some other things (and no, it isn't real "pasty").

The fish then marinated for an hour before being wrapped in the banana leaf, sprinkled with fresh herbs and put on the grill.

I grilled some onions in lime and cumin for the side

While HP made some salsa

Doesn't this look good?
With a little lime and tomato on top, it really was a tasty adventure!


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Look inside

For some reason, I have recently been finding new and creative ways to enclose my food. Some of it is enclosed for cooking purposes only and some of it is enclosed to eat.

Last weekend, I wanted a little of each. My first round began with a trip to the Farmer's Market. Fish for dinner is what was listed on my list, so I headed to my favorite fishmonger and got a lovely piece of Dolphin. No, not Flipper
Then I came home and had to decide what to do with it.

So, feeling a little adventuresome, I tried Tikinxic, also known as Yucatan-style grilled mahi-mahi. What makes it Yucatcany, you ask? It is cooked in Banana Leaves. Banana Leaves were pretty easy to find (found at the 2nd store I went to) though a little pricey- $5.99-which I guess isn't so much considering how many I got.

I then made a recado rojo for the fish and wrapped it up and sent it to the grill. HP made some zippy salsa to go along with it and we put it along side some couscous. We are ethnically diverse at the dinner table. We ate in the yard, under the little baby grapelings with a glass of cheap white wine. It was lovely, and a lot of fun.

My next attempt at swaddling my food, was sadly less successful. It is summer, and we had almost a week with temperatures enough above 90 to reach the top of the double digits. (Today is a "chilly 87") So I thought, what better time to make summer rolls. However, the grocery store gods have a different plan for me. I have now been to 6 grocery stores, 2 farmer's markets, a couple specialty stores and a gourmet shop, but can not find rice paper anywhere. Apparently, international doesn't mean what I think it does, but I have found all sorts of interesting food items out there. Unfortunately, I don't have a camera phone, so you'll just have to wonder about that.

I do have some pictures of the Yucatany fish, but right now I'm having problems uploading to flickr. So you'll just have to wonder about that too!


Sunday, June 8, 2008

As seen on the internet

From FreeCycle

Wanted: Mini Food Chopper
I'm looking for a mini food chopper for my siamese cat. He is old and has lost most of his teeth.
Now that is just cruel.

OFFER: Large Swag
How does he walk now?

Taken: Vanity

This song is no longer about you.


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Gosh it's hot out here!

but I don't think you came here to talk about the weather. It's boring, but really it is way too early for 97 degrees.

The solstice is coming, I'm thinking of having a small party out in the yard. Ya'll are invited, really I mean that!

I'm trying to come up with ideas of what to make. Any suggestions? Please, keep in mind that my kitchen has no a/c. I'm hoping that tomatoes will start showing up early so I can make a nice cool gazpacho. I'm sure that my my little grilled pizzas (cotto poca pizza) will make an appearance. I get in ruts way too quickly with fun foods like that!

And to drink? My frozen mango bebedo's (I just came up with that name since I can't find the origin of the drink). I may have to come up with other flavors to freeze and inebriate as well.
I'll also do lemonade's for the teetotalers and who knows what else.

Please if you are out there, leave me suggestions. And really come on over!


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Why I'll never be a "Food Blogger"

It has taken a week, but I will finally post a couple food pictures:
I will never be a food blogger because I don't have the patience to pose my food beautifully or remember to write down what is going into my dinner. Or even what I had for dinner some nights. But I do at least think about these things and OCCASIONALLY remember to take a photo.

For my wrap-fest, the only one that got near a camera was eggplant night. You will notice immediately that eggplant, while tasty, is not very photogenic.
(You'll also notice that my slices aren't very even. Another reason I'll never be a food blogger.)
They do look a little better once they have be sacrificed to the Char-King
(pay no attention to the piece that is under the grate. It was a rough flipping)
Sadly the goat cheese spread on a flour tortilla doesn't do much for the color. Thank goodness for a little lettuce mix.

It was probably slightly redundant to serve it with a salad, but hey, I needed to add something to call it dinner and I thought that chips would diminish that "healthy" aspect I was kind of going for. (It's only a little goat cheese, it just looks like a lot) Or maybe this is the shrimp one. Since I didn't slice for the photo, who knows!

So for the really good pictures of food, visit someone who seems to have more patience to photograph every thing, beautifully as well as posting the recipes. Thank goodness for people like Cathy, who cooks, photographs everything, raises hooligans and is soon planting a winery. How do you manage to do it??? (and remember me when you need tasters :) )

Also not to be missed is another amazing chef/photographer who answers the Eternal Question What's for Lunch Honey?

There are tons more out there, but those are my current faves!

I will also take a minute to talk about my grilled pizzas, once again. (I swear that I will photograph these babies at some point when I am not scrambling to get them on the table to feed people) (how do you do that, make the photo all pretty and still have a hot dinner???)
Anyway, I did a variation on my grilled pizza and am very excited because I learned that it will be possible for me to make these year-round.
Some of the talented young men I know at the GoggleWorks recently had a gallery show. As with all good things, it had to come to an end and it did last Friday night. But the guys decided to go out with a bang and a party so I agreed to make some dip. Which then turned into some dip and a little food. On the menu: Redneck Fondue (a yummy beer-cheese dip), Sweet & Saucy Meatballs (turkey meatballs in a ginger-peach sauce spiked with bourbon) and grilled pizzas. I was a little bummed (but not at all surprised) I couldn't bring my tabletop propane grill, but I was able to bring this:

My ever trusty Farberware grill. My parents got one as a wedding gift, my mom picked up a spare for parts at a garage sale because she was frightened it would one day fail. I got mine when the local Service Merchandise was closing. It is rather large & a pain to store, but it is an awesome piece of kitchen equipment. (It's most common use in my home is the rotisserie feature for a Christmas duck. There is NO other way to cook it!) So I saw it sitting there and decided that was the answer to hot food.
I made my pizza dough as normal, but when it came time to shape it, I used an empty tin to create small (about the size of an English Muffin) individual pizza crusts. I hammered them out and put them in the freezer until it was time to go. I wanted to keep it as simple as possible (or at least as simple as I could at this point) so I prepped for 2 kinds of pizza. The first had a cheese spread made with Goat Cheese (I can get an 11 oz. log for $5.25 at the local farmer's market; it is a staple in my house) mixed with cream cheese and fresh snipped herbs. I think I used oregano, marjoram, rosemary and thyme with a little salt and pepper. I also had caramelized onions (another favorite in my home) and roasted red-pepper. My other variety was fresh mozzarella marinated in Balsamic vinegar, sliced tomato in olive oil and fresh basil.
I prepped all the toppings and put them in their plastic containers and trudged off to the Gallery.
The creation of these mini-miracles was actually pretty easy.
I preheated the grill and then plopped the pre-cut dough circles (ok, by that time, maybe not circles, but close enough) onto the grill. I then either (a) smeared it with the cheese spread, and topped it with onions and red peppers or (b) placed the mozzarella, tomato and basil on top. I brought my Pampered Chef bar pan and used that as a lid to trap the heat inside which almost worked. (a couple of the pizzas rose a lot so the toppings stuck and I had a bit of a mess)
Amazingly enough, this worked out really well. The pizzas cooked up brilliantly and disappeared as fast as I could make them. I also figure that I can make a bunch of small crusts (maybe muffin sized, maybe dessert plate sized) and freeze them ahead of time so that the mess of the crusts is out of the way, and I can eat these on a whim instead of on several hours notice. (The dough is very simple, but it does take time to rise, and I usually make a big mess--which is another reason I don't take photos).
As you may have realized, these are very unconventional pizzas, but I haven't figured out a better name for them. My husband was vying for "Grillza" but I am not so sure. Any ideas??
I am also constantly looking for ideas of what to top these with. I did get a great inspiration tonight. How perfect would an upside down version of these be? Pizza Rockefeller anyone?
Any other suggestions for these? Please, I think I'm in a (tasty) goat cheese rut!


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