Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Cookbook Project: Recipe 2

Book: Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook: Recipes from Hunan Province
Author: Fuchsia Dunlop
Recipe: Stir-Fried Rice with Pork and Shiitake Mushrooms
Page: 258

Came from: Williams-Sonoma, was on super-sale, thought it would challenge me to learn some Chinese cooking.

Why this recipe: Wanted to learn how to make stir-fried rice and there weren't a lot of ingredients. (You should see some of the other recipes in this book!)

Ingredient: Dried shiitake mushrooms

Techniques: Cooking in a wok.

Process: Very simple...get everything prepared beforehand, then add ingredients to very hot wok. Cooks super fast.

Outcome: Yum! I added some extra veggies to make it a bit healthier. I also left out the salt since I was already using soy sauce (low sodium, which is not low by any means). It was a tad bland, but still tasty. This recipe was pretty basic, so you could really add other goodies to bump up the flavor. Next time I would add a splash of pineapple or orange juice.

Make again? Definitely. It made for a quick weeknight dinner!

Join the Cookbook Project Flickr group.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Cookbook Project: Recipe 1

Book: How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
Author: Mark Bittman
Recipe: Naked Tamales w/Chile Cheese Filling
Page: 547

Came from: Gift from NPR donation.

Why this recipe: I love Mexican food and it's so hard to find authentic or even good Mexican food here in Pittsburgh, so I thought I would branch out and try something that didn't involve taco shells! I will admit that I went for the easier route by nixxing the cornhusks and going for the "naked" version.

New ingredient: Harina de Maiz.

Techniques: Baking in water bath and roasting your own peppers.

Process: Make a masa, or dough, as well as the filling, layer and bake. It was a bit time consuming and utilized a fair share of dishes. Not a meal for a quick, weeknight dinner! It called for a homemade enchilada sauce, but I used canned to save time.

Outcome: Very tasty! It was moist and flavorful and the chile/cheese filling was delectable! I think the tamales could do without the rich enchilada sauce, maybe just add some freshly chopped tomatoes and a hint of cilantro. Also, I did not miss meat whatsoever.

Make again? Absolutely!

The Cookbook Project.

I love to cook. I love to try new recipes. At times, though, I feel inundated with magazines full of gorgeous recipes and overwhelmed by a bookshelf full of cookbooks, most of which have barely been opened.

I have old and new cookbooks. Generic and food specific cookbooks. Many cookbooks that were my grandmother's. I have cookbooks specific to a country or a region. I have an entire collection of Time Life "Foods of the World" cookbooks from 1971 and Trader Vic's cookbooks from the '40's. I have fancy restaurant cookbooks. Salad dressing, fish, cookies, BBQ, Splenda, sausage...yup, they all have a cookbook on my shelf.


In an effort to not only try new recipes, but also new ingredients and techniques, I've taken on the self-imposed challenge of making one recipe from every single, solitary cookbook on this shelf. It's not quite as daunting as making every recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Childs as documented in the fun book Julie & Julia by Julie Powell. But, still an exciting task nonetheless.

I don't really have any rules, except that I have to go in order, top to bottom, left to right. I will choose a dish that I've never made, uses a new ingredient or a employs a new technique. I hope to make one dish a week.

My goal is to have fun, find a few new favorite dishes, learn some new techniques and come out with a sense of accomplishment. Edit: After thinking more about the project, I also want to become a better blogger and learn to photograph food better!

The first book on the top shelf is actually a favorite of mine and a vegetarian bible to many. It's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman.

Stay tuned!

Oh, and I started a Cookbook Project Flickr group if you'd like to challenge yourself and join in the fun!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Oh so cold, but oh so beautiful...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

1000 Handmade Greetings.

I received my copy (actually two copies) of 1000 Handmade Greetings today. My "Peace on Earth" holiday card is one of four cards featured on page 216. Yippee! Unfortunately, it was categorized incorrectly under "print gocco" (it should have been in the "hand-printed, stamped & stenciled cards" section), but I am very excited to be included nonetheless!

The colorful book is beautifully laid out on high-quality paper and features many talented artists and techniques. I am honored to be a part of it and can't wait to delve deeper into the book. There's so much to look at!

The book can be purchased from Amazon.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Garden Gnome.

You can just see his hat poking out of the snow. And, yes, we have one. I swear it was a gag gift yet it has somehow come to be a part of our landscape. But really, who doesn't enjoy a good garden gnome?