- Have you played with Picassohead?
Here is a fun program I just wanted to share. My kids and I can't get enough of Picassohead! It gives you the same satisfaction of wasting time that Solitaire does, but with much better results. Obviously it's been around for ages, but oddly there are no others that have saved to the gallery since 2003. Well, it's new to me. Just like all those shows on Netflix. I missed almost a decade of TV, so now I get to catch up five seasons at a time.Here is one of my creations, titled Girl with Pink Hair. Yep. Thinking about going pink again.I swear the minute I passed 45, the grey started pouring out of my head. Down with grey, up with pink!Girl with Pink Hair by julie
- Grilled Planked Cauliflower That Isn't Boring
Sometimes I think of my refrigerator as a chilled composting machine. I buy bushels of baby arugula and wild dandelion greens, age them until they are no longer edible, and then compost them in the bins outside. Maybe I'm just doing my part to subsidize small farmers.Grilling veggies is a great way to get out of the salad rut. It punches up the flavor and texture to help them fight for the main stage of dinner. That's a tough slot in my household of carnivores, and I would be completely lying if I said my kids thought this was better than steak. Still, it was eaten. That's pretty awesome.Cauliflower, the vegetable's answer to beige walls, boring neck ties, and the cubicle, is an excellent candidate for grilling. It needs help. It needs fire and flavor and some grill marks to break up the off-white color. With this easy recipe, you can make cauliflower exciting in only about 10 minutes. That's more than I can say about some people. I shall not name names but you know who you are.*This is all you have to do. I'm not even going to format this as a recipe. Plank the cauliflower carefully by slicing thick, even slices. The more stem the better to help hold your little tree together. It tends to break apart, which is fine as you can see some smaller pieces below, just more work on the grill. Drizzle it with sesame oil and lightly coat both sides. Again, gently so as to keep them in their planks. Sprinkle sea salt.Preheat grill on high for five minutes, then turn down to medium high. Grill planks for three minutes then flip with a spatula. Turn down to low and close the lid. Let them soften a little on this side, about five minutes or so. Turn off grill with the lid down and let rest in the warm grill for another 2 minutes.Serve with fresh cracked pepper.*I had a really long tangent written here that I thought was funny, but then decided no one would get it so I erased it. And since only two of you are reading this right now, keeping the star and explaining what I did is a little like talking to myself. Publicly. Blogs are a little like socially accepted Schizophrenia. My hair is a mess and my shirt is dirty while I write this too. And just so we are clear, this isn't the really long tangent I'd written originally and deleted. I simply have a bad habit of writing really long tangents that no one wants to read, especially when I'm explaining really long tangents. Help. I can't stop. Someone? Cauliflower?
- Out of the mouths of babes
I found this in my post drafts list today. I'm notorious for starting blog posts and not ever publishing them. I think there are about 35 currently in draft status. This one, though, made me giggle, because it's from years ago when my son was about five. Now my daughter is five and is cracking me up daily, so it's back to being a current post.Like last weekend. after boozing it up with the preschool moms, my daughter asked if I'd had a lot of chocolate and salad. Yep, salad. Way too much salad, because that's what mom's eat.Well, she was right about the chocolate. I'll give that to her.Here's a precious conversation from my son. Note how easily he kills off dad and puts mom in a coma. He loves a good plot, that one. Wants to be author when he grows up."Mom, let's pretend I'm an adult, and you are my best friend, and we're going to get married soon.""OK, honey. So...what do you do for work?""I run the restaurant.""Really? Do you like it?""Yeah, it's great, except...well my dad died and my mom's been in the hospital for 16 years.""16 years! And can't daddy just be retired?""Mom. You're not playing it right."Classic. As a co-op parent I get to enjoy not only the awesome things that come out of my kids' mouths, but of 18 other kids too. They all are these incredible beings: aware and smart enough to make jokes and understand what is going on, yet it's like they are on some groovy trip where reality and imagination are completely woven together. I wish we didn't lose that. Didn't pull apart and separate those threads.If you are a parent, I know you wish there was a way to write down what your kids say on a consistent basis. I started a just for me twitter account to write down my son's hilarious stuff, but of course I don't catch even a fraction of what comes out of that mouth, or update it often. By child #2 it's not even a concept to tweet the cool things she says.What do you do? I'd love to hear if anyone has a good system or habit of writing down the wisdom out of the mouths of babes.
- March Madness Party with the Girls
I'm on a mama's weekend right now, and while mum's the word (get it?) on what happened to the lamp, and our no-facebook pact is in place (what happens on #mamasweekend, stays on #mamasweekend), I can tell you this: the food is both fabulous and copious. The fridge is so packed that every time it is opened, a container of hummus comes flying out. There is a table dedicated to the chocolate stash. And the snack section, well, it ain't a bag of Doritos.What we don't have are cheese sticks, juice boxes or Mac-n-Cheese.It's fitting that my post on Char-broil is up in time for March Madness. The theme? Girl power appetizers to class up your sports-viewing. Not that there is anything wrong with pigs in a blanket or nacho cheese sauce. They have their place. But for your mama's weekend or Sweet Sixteen party this weekend, I encourage you to cook with the big girls. Read the whole post here, and enjoy!
- Skirt Steak Sriracha
I live in a house of spice wimps. Every now and then I need some heat, something other than a one star rating. I need my tongue to tingle and mouth to be on fire for a moment or two before it dissipates.The other day, while grocery shopping at Central Market, a place I rarely escape with under a $200 bill, yet still manage to leave happy, I came across two people sampling their Sriracha sauce made from red jalapenos grown in Washington. Washington jalapenos? I mean, apples, of course, and lentils, you bet, but Washington State is not the first place I think of for jalapenos. Do we really get enough sun to turn a pepper red?The taste was lovely and the heat, while significant, did not overpower. I had to buy it. Not only are the peppers grown locally, it is made and bottled locally and it's gluten-free, so it hits a plethora of buttons. Sriracha, sometimes called "rooster sauce", hails from the coastal city of Si Racha in Thailand, and is often served with Vietnamese Pho, according to Wikipedia.I bought a nice slab of a skirt steak to grill with it. I love skirt steak for it's price and flavor but it needs help getting tender. Crosshatch cuts on one side with some marination time in this Sriracha did the trick. Paired with a grilled corn salad and corn tortillas, to counter the spice. I realized too late that I'd used up my gas tank, and it was freezing out, so I didn't want to trouble with charcoal. What was a girl to do? I put my little Char-broil Grill2Go on my grill and fired it up. I use the Grill2Go for camping, and if I tailgated, I'd use it for that. This little guy kicks out a lot of heat.Here is the recipe.Grilled Skirt Steak Srirachawith Grilled Corn SaladIngredients1 skirt steak1 bottle of Sriracha sauceSalt & pepperFor the Corn Salad (enough for 3-4 people)4 ears of corn1/2 red pepper1/2 red onionCherry tomatoesFresh cilantroSalt & Pepper1/2 lime1/2 teaspoon cumin1/4 cup olive oilStep-by-step1) Make shallow crosshatch cuts on one side of the steak. Pat with salt and pepper.2) Pour four ounces of Sriracha sauce and coat the meat. Turn over to coat evenly. Let marinate for 1-2 hours.3) While the steak marinates, make the corn salad. Grill corn, peppers, and red onion until nicely marked, but not wilted. Set aside to cool.4) Once cool, cut off corn from ear, dice peppers and onions.5) Make dressing with fresh lime, cumin, olive oil and salt and peeper. Dress salad and toss with halved cherry tomatoes right before grilling steak.6) Preheat gas, charcoal or infrared grill on high.7) Shake off extra marinade before grilling steak (and discard used marinade).8) Grill over direct flames for 3-4 minutes on the side without crosshatch cuts. Rotate steak 45 degrees (to get those nice grill marks we all love) and grill for about 4 minutes. Turn over and grill another 3-4 minutes until medium rare or to desired doneness.6) Let steak rest for five minutes before slicing against the grain and on the diagonal. Serve with warm corn or flour tortillas and corn salad.
- Here's A Monty Python Video While You Wait. An Operator Will Be With You Shortly...
That was a little longer break on the blog than I'd expected. I had a lot of expectations of things being done in the last month, but things in reality move much more slowly than the pretty pictures in my head.Even so, life is going swimmingly at our *New and Improved* Smokin' Pete's BBQ. We have been going one room at at a time scrubbing and painting and moving furniture here and there, in and out. Signs have been ordered and arrived so that in the near future we can take the butcher paper off the windows that makes people think we are closed. We have huge windows, for those of you that aren't near, which are great for letting in light, but make one feel like a fish. For a restaurant, "fishbowl is goot". For a catering kitchen during crunch time, not so much. But we'll have a lovely front space built for tastings, pick up orders and meetings soon, in two weeks, um, whenever the contractor gets it done.The thing is, we keep having to stop to cater, which is awesome of course, but it means not a lot is getting done on super secret brand #2.You'll simply have to be patient. Good things take time, especially food. And if you know me personally, you know that my silence is, well, a rare thing to be treasured. It means good things. It also means I won't bore you with cute stories about my kids or my issues with wheat (we'll get to that soon. Oh joy!).Until then, I suggest we all relax and have a laugh. Monty Python is a favorite of mine.
- Heart Salad for Your (Sweet) Heart
I love chocolate as much as the next gal, probably more, but holidays like V-day really bring on the sugar to the point it gets a little gross. The last thing I want to feel is bloated on one of the guaranteed days of nookie, am I right ladies? Here is a romantic salad that will make your heart feel loved.Grilled Eggplant and Heart Pepper SaladIngredients1 eggplant, sliced in rings1/3 cup Pomace or other cooking olive oil (not extra virgin)Kosher salt2 red peppers, cut into heartsSalad greens for twoFeta or goat cheese, 3 ouncesVinaigrette1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil1 large lemon1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary1/2 teaspoon dried thymeSalt and fresh cracked pepperDirectionsAn hour before your meal, cut eggplant into rings. Drizzle olive oil and evenly sprinkle 2-3 pinches of kosher salt. Toss to evenly coat. The salt will firm up the eggplant, while the oil will have time to soak in.Cut out hearts from red peppers using the natural curves of the ends to be the curves of the heart. I usually get two large hearts per pepper.If using charcoal, start your coals. If using gas, preheat your grill 30 minutes before your meal. When grill is hot, at a medium high heat, grill eggplant rings on both sides until they soften but don't fall apart. Set apart to cool.Grill peppers just enough to caramelize a little, but not so much to char or shrivel the heart shape. (Shriveling being generally not desired on Valentine's Day...)Cut lemons and squeeze fresh, add olive oil, dried herbs and salt and pepper. Dress salad greens and crumble cheese. Top with grilled eggplant and heart-shaped peppers.
- Love Me Tenderloin
This year I have two Valentine's Day recipes for you. After all, it is the holiday that espouses two is better than one.The first is up on Char-broil and is divine anytime of year. It's a grilled tenderloin seasoned with a love potion. That's right. A bonafide* love potion that really works. If you doubt me, you should know that because of my Bloody Mary post, the Seahawks won the Super bowl, so that practically proves it right there. But if you need more proof, I would suggest you try the recipe. At the very least you'll have made a delicious pork tenderloin drizzled with a Cabernet reduction sauce, garnished with winter harvest grilled pears and pomegranate seeds.If your loved one doesn't appreciate a dinner like that, then maybe he or she isn't the one. Ya know?Read the whole recipe here.*by the way, spellcheck doesn't think "bonafide" is a real word and wants to change it to either "debonaire" or "bonehead" which are often the same thing. On Valentine's Day, I would suggest you are neither. Just be yourself, use my love potion, and see what happens.PS: I'll post the second recipe tomorrow.