Saturday, January 26, 2008

Root-Beer Barbecue

This is something I've heard of online and have been wanting to try: take some beef or pork (in this case, a piece of bottom round roast and some boneless pork chops that needed to be used), put it in a crock-pot. Cover the meat with root beer and cook all day. Drain the meat and shred, then add a barbecue sauce (homemade or your favorite bottled), heat through.

This was good, but I've gotta say it didn't taste that much different than other barbecues I've made in the crock pot. The root beet did a good job of tenderizing the meat, but you couldn't really taste it in the finished product. But still a good meal.
Pork Stir-Fry

I found a neat little table in Kraft's Food and Family magazine that lists ways you can make stir-fry. I chose this combination of boneless pork chops, fried in a sauce mixture of sesame oil, soy sauce, Italian salad dressing, and sesame seeds (which I did not have). The article makes suggestions for vegetables to pair with the meat (in this case, sprouts and carrots), but I used a frozen stir-fry veggie mix. Layered over brown rice, this was a good way to enjoy pork chops, which I'm not usually a fan of. I like the idea of having an entire meal in one bowl. And I felt so sophisticated eating with my pretty chopsticks! The Food and Family table is a great tool to print out and have on hand. I think I am going to get some sesame seeds to try with this recipe next time.

Friday, January 25, 2008

When did this happen?!?

I was in line at the grocery store yesterday, waiting for the lady in front of me to quit with the attitude, when I took a look at the contents in my cart.

hmmm......let's see, hormone-free milk rice .......cage-free eggs, chlorine and phosphate free dishwasher detergent .......natural tortilla chips .........and cloth bags to carry home my purchases.

WHOA! When did that happen?!? My husband took one look at my bounty sitting on the kitchen counter and officially declared me a "tree hugger." I don't think I've quite gotten there yet, but since I've started blogging, I've been introduced to the lifestyles of people who live differently from me. It all started when I stumbled across the what I believe is now-defunct blog called Vegan Lunch Box, which was written by a mother who packed vegan lunches for her first grader. She put a lot of time into it, and the lunches were always adorable. I realized that while it is a challenge, you CAN eat a healthy vegan diet and get plenty of protein, etc. It's not just salads! From there I moved on to more radical vegan blogs - ones whose doctrine I would never agree with, but nonetheless I enjoyed seeing how someone lives differently than me. I found a blog written by a lady who runs a small beef farm, and another who runs her own soap-making business. Then there's the guy who is completely self-sufficient, living hours away from civilization, tending to his garden made up entirely of plants that are native to the area - oh, to spend a day with THAT guy!

I started to think about how my food choices affect not only me, but me nation and the world as well. I buy organic milk because I like to support the small farms that produce it, plus the growth hormones regular cows are given scare me - I see too many fifth grade girls who look a lot different than when I was that age! I buy cage-free eggs because I would never think it's okay to keep a dog or a cat in a shoe-boxed size cage for it's entire life - why would it be okay for a chicken? Plus, both of these foods taste a LOT better than their mass-produced counterparts. But I'm getting ahead of myself. What I really wanted to do was thank YOU, the blogging world, for exposing me to the way other people eat! I am a better cook and a better person because of it!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

In honor of my 200th post: 20 food facts about me:

1. I started cooking as a preschooler

2. We have a picture of me standing on a chair in my diaper, helping my mom stir something.

3. If you want a good laugh and if you ask very nicely, she’ll probably post it on her blog.

4. I believe that there are very few things in life that cannot be improved with garlic.

5. For me, the hardest part of cooking is following through to the “cleaning up” stage.

6. I have not yet been able to bring myself to try sashimi.

7. I do not like the combination of peanut butter and chocolate.

8. I try really hard to like raw tomatoes.

9. My mother, grandmother and I all agree that if we had to live the rest of our lives on two things, it would be fruit and cheese.

10. One of the greatest joys of my life is to have other people enjoy my food.

11. I think that iceberg lettuce is a waste of time.

12. I am very picky about sweet things.

13. I can be dangerous around those sweets I like.

14. It would be weird for me to cook without my dog underfoot.

15. I need breakfast to function.

16. I love to try foods from different cultures (exceptions being lots of Asian “delicacies” – i.e., dog, cat, sashimi…)

17. My husband taught me that there is indeed a difference between the taste of Coke and Pepsi.

18. My favorite drink is fresh-squeezed orange juice.

19. I credit myself with expanding my husband’s palate in a major way.

20. The blog world has been one of the best things for me to expand my cooking horizons. Here’s to another 200 posts!


We had another Big Green Egg first this week: Stromboli! The dough came from the pizza place across that recently opened near our house, but I didn't feel like doing a pizza. This Stromboli has provolone cheese, pan sausage, and pepperoni in it, served with a side of marinara.

Nothing fancy, but you can't tell me that doesn't look good! The dough came out crusty, with the Egg lending a slightly smoky flavor.

A very simple, satisfying meal!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Rainbow Trout in Maple-Dill Brine

In my ongoing quest to try to expand our fish palate, I got some Rainbow Trout from Publix yesterday. Once I got home, I decided to try this brine, even though it called for 8-10 hours of brining in the fridge, and I only had about 3 hours. I also did NOT use real maple syrup like the recipe calls for.

Here's the brine ready to go, featuring fresh dill from my herb garden, brown sugar, garlic, and (of course) kosher salt.

The fish after brining. I don't know what 8 hours of brining would have done to this filet, because it had already started to cook a little.

Here it is, in a not-so-good picture on the plate.

We also had parmesan-crusted potato wedges and steamed broccoli with parmesan cheese. The fish turned out much better than the picture! I didn't think it needed any more time in the brine - maybe a more firm filet (tuna or salmon?) would require that extra time. This was very different, and we both enjoyed this recipe. I think we'll be trying it with other types of fish as well. Oh, and I got real maple syrup today, so we'll see if that really makes a difference :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


I have been cooking...really. It's just that once I get it all over with, get the kitchen cleaned up, and do whatever else I need to do, blogging has lost it's appeal. Here's a look at what's been cooking at the Wolfe House:

I thought this was salmon, but according to the guy at Winn-Dixie, it's actually steelhead trout. It cooked up and tasted like salmon, but the texture was a little different...more flaky? It was a nice change. I wish I could find a REAL fish market that features more than tilapia and salmon. One more thing I miss about Gainesville!

Chocolate covered strawberry for dessert. Local strawberries are on the market right now, and I've gotta say they aren't as good as I was expecting. Maybe it's just the apples are so good I can't think of anything else. Have you ever had a Honeycrisp apple? As of today, I have, and HOLY COW.

Pizza on the Big Green Egg. Nothing special, but very tasty.

I came home from class on Friday night and this meatloaf was waiting for me. It was really good! AND I didn't have to make it!

By the way, I hope you all like my new look. I never actually said anything about it, but Mike put together the banner for me, and I think he did a bang-up job!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Dinner Pictures

After Christmas I cooked down the carcass from the turkey and got two gallon freezer bags full of stock. This week I pulled out one of them and made a turkey soup with carrots, celery, sweet Florida onions from the farmer's market, and basmanti rice.

I had never tried basmanti rice in soup before, but I liked it better than regular ole rice. I'd really prefer pasta, but Mr. Picky won't have any of that!

Next up, another Big Green Egg adventure: shrimp! I marinated them for a few hours in beer, canola oil, lime juice, minced garlic and Trinidad Lemon-Garlic Marinade from Penzey's Spices.

Here they are plated up, along with some beer bread with cheddar cheese, and a green salad made with veggies from the Farmer's Market, along with a Roasted Garlic-Parmesan dressing I made that turned out very tasty. I get tired of the bottled stuff from the store!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Christmas Food!!

Mike did the Christmas turkey for my mom on his Big Green Egg. It was a 20-pound turkey, and the instruction booklet says the Egg holds UP TO a 20-pound turkey, so he was a little concerned about fitting it on there, but he needn't have worried. He made a brine out of water, kosher salt, soy sauce, brown sugar, allspice, pepper, and garlic, then let the turkey sit in that for 36 hours.

Mike puts the finishing touches on the bird, right before letting it sit on the Egg for about 3 hours.

Isn't it beautiful?!? Mike cooked the bird on Christmas Eve, but had to leave right before it was done for band practice. He nonchalantly told me to "take it off in about 20 minutes," which is a lot more complicated than it sounds!! What he really meant is that he wanted me to lift a flaming hot broiler pan off a 375-degree smoker, which is full of boiling, popping water and grease, and oh yeah just happens to have a 20-pound turkey on it. No problem, hon! Luckily, my uncle was over for Christmas Eve dinner, and he was more than happy to help out. I wish I had gotten a picture of him almost burning his eyebrows off (he didn't realize you have to "burp" the Egg before you open it all the way)! We got it in the kitchen, despite the dog trying her best to trip my uncle, and wrapped it in foil until the next day:

Do they look like brothers? Not really, but then again they're only related by marriage. My brother and Mike expertly carve the turkey at my mom's house.

The bounty. Beautiful. And delicous!!

Mike followed Smokin Okie's Brining 101 instructions, which can be found at