Sunday, November 26, 2006

Thanksgiving Pictures

I am grateful for a long weekend and friends and family to spend it with. I wish I could have been with my Michigan family as well, maybe next year. Jack, Annabelle, and I went to his mother's place for the holiday. He stood up to the challenge of making sweet potato casserole and pecan pie. I took on spinach and artichoke dip and a super sugary whipped fruit dip. The fruit dip recipe is from Paula Dean so it's very rich. Not to worry - absolution is built right in with the fruit that delivers the sugary goodness. Get the recipe here. (I think it goes as "French Cream" in this recipe.)

Our friends Kathryn and Albert and Jack's mom, Karen came over the day after Thanksgiving. We finished some of the leftovers, (I made a turkey casserole) and watched "Gone with the Wind". It was a cozy evening spent watching a great film.

Now the weekend is coming to a close with snow, about four inches so far. This is not normal for Seattle. I was happy to discover my Michigan driving skills were still intact earlier today.

I have some pictures to share...

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Crunchy Miss

I am quite familiar with eating Vietnamese spring rolls, having consumed many before diving into a hot bowl of Pho. However, I have recently learned that I am not so acquainted with handling rice paper. Making Vietnamese Summer Rolls (page 26) was a messy affair. To be honest, I am a bit clumsy and I have the potential to be quite messy. Any recipe requiring pan-frying, flour, and/or dredging calls for extra clean-up time in my kitchen. The idea behind the rolls is simple: yummy, fresh, iningredients (many of them crunchy), are rolled up in rice paper. The rolls are then dipped in a sauce called nuoc cham (recipe page 111). The rice paper was too delicate for my fingers, I ripped two out of...two. Jack suggested I double up next time - not a bad idea. The combination of lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, cellophane noodles, tofu, bean sprouts, cilantro, and mint is so refreshing. The mint always takes me by surprise - in a good way. Making sure the rolls aren't overstuffed was the second biggest challenge for me. My rolls made for messy eating. This wouldn't have been a big deal, but the nuoc cham sauce was way too tangy. I think the two tablespoons of rice vinegar was too much. I don't know if it was me or the recipe, but something was off. I should have used this nuoc cham recipe instead. I may need to make this dipping sauce again in future recipes. Next up: Steamed Fish with Green Onions and Ginger.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Ahh, To Be a Guest

Another lapse in posts, I am ashamed. And yet, not too ashamed. It has become much chillier in recent days and that has turned me into a baking fanatic. I can not stop thinking of flour, sugar, and eggs! This has not really contributed to my Asian cooking project. The dessert recipes in that particular cookbook don't inspire me-only one requires baking. Instead, I have made chocolate chip cookies, (the family recipe) molasses spice muffins, an oatmeal-pecan pie that is the cover recipe of this month's Cooking Light (November 2006) and a traditional pecan pie. I had to use up the extra store bought pie crust (I cheat, I know) and leftover pecans.
I have been fortunate to be the guest for two dinners this week. My friend Kate has started a weekly Sunday night dinner tradition among friends. Frank, Christopher, Jack and I were the guests at the first dinner this past Sunday. We carved pumpkins as the food was prepared. Our dinner was roast chicken with lemon and herbs, a salad, squash, and rolls. Not to mention mulled cider. I must say that Kate is the best hostess I know. If it weren't for her, I don't think we would have carved pumpkins this year. Jack and I are looking forward to the Sunday dinners to come.
Jack's mother, Karen came by on Monday to share her homemade chili and celebrate her birthday. Jack's sister Molly was there too. We had a satisfying dinner and sadly, watched the Vikings loose to the Patriots. (Karen and Molly are Vikings fans.) We had two wonderful nights with friends and family and really good eats.
It is now a week later and I am proud to report that have I made something Asian!!! Next post: Vietnamese summer rolls.