Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Faking Gourmet

My beautiful sister turned 22 years old I took it upon myself to create a dinner that would live in infamy to honor her 22 years of existence. In my very humble opinion, I out did myself, my "gourmet creation" leaves me speechless. Now, cooking hasn't ever been my forte but I have a new way of doing things. I call it Faking Gourmet.

This adventure started when I dug through my pile of cookbooks and picked up the largest, The All-New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook. I began aimlessly flipping through the pages and ended up drooling over the dessert section. After seeing a full page picture of a cake so beautiful and decadent that it  required the compilation of  three recipes to create the Chocolate Truffle Cake, I made up my mind that this would be my sister's birthday cake.

As the day quickly approached I began to panic...could I actually pull off such a cake? The answer was a resounding NO.  My only option was to fake gourmet. I went to the grocery store the night before the dinner and bought my supplies, I also picked up a Betty Crocker chocolate cake mix. I decided that I wasn't actually going to make the cake. I would, however, make the truffle that went in between the layers and the Ganache that would coat it (I also picked up a large tub of icing just in case the whole ordeal went south).

With a little effort (I took the day off work) I created a beautiful and delicious cake that Southern Living would be proud of!

The moral of the story is anyone can fake gourmet. The key is not to get depressed by the overly lengthy recipes that don't have pictures.

Happy Birthday  Gina!

Monday, February 22, 2010

How To Make Sushi

I have never been a huge fan of sushi. My first experience with Sushi was when Bradley took me out to sushi on our third date. He said his favorite food in the whole wide world was the spicy crunchy tuna at Lemon Grass. So we went to broaden my palette. After dinner Bradley asked me to rank my opinion of sushi on a scale from 1 to 10. I gave it a 4. He was deeply offended that I ranked his favorite food a 4. If we were further along in our dating relationship I would have ranked it a 2 despite Bradley's enthusiasm. I very slowly began to like sushi over time, but I really started liking it when we began making it for ourself. We were taught by some friends and now we just love it. It takes a little while but we like to make an evening of it. So here is step-by-step directions to become a master sushi chef...master may be overkill... Also, If you are absolutely disgusted by sushi I say give it a chance, I actually really enjoy veggie sushi rolls too...I probably just lost all my credibility... So here we go...

First you need rice. Make sure you get short grain white rice. Pictured below is what we use. And yes, we have a 10 lb bag. To cook the rice follow the directions of water to rice ratio. Bring the rice to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on. *It is important that you don't lift the lid and stir. This lets steam out and your final rice product will be crunchy. Bring the rice off the heat and sit for 10 minutes. Still, do not take the lid off. Remove the rice from the pot into a bowl to cool. Add a couple tablespoons of Sushi Vinegar.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

"This is the Day..."

"This is the day, (This is the day) that the Lord hath made, (that the Lord hath made) I will rejoice (I will rejoice) and be glad in it." Can you hear it in your head? I can. I remember my mom waking me and my siblings up every Sabbath morning singing this song. It is scripture, Psalm 118:24, so I don't think it's strictly a Seventh Day Adventist song. This scripture rings true. However, it affects me in a different way today, than it did those Saturday mornings growing up.

My view growing up was that God created and set apart the Sabbath. God blessed the seventh day and rested from work (Gen 2:3). The Sabbath day was to be remembered and kept holy (Exodus 20:8). I don't want to focus on the issue of Saturday Sabbath versus Sunday Sabbath. The issue I want to talk about is the changes that take place from Old Testament to New Testament. It is not an issue of one day holy but all days devoted to Christ, "for the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath" (Matt 12:8). Not one day set apart but a lifestyle set apart.

I do believe that Christians should have a Sabbath, a day to rest from the busyness of work and stress, a day to contemplate the goodness, greatness and worth of our Savior. The early church marked Sunday, the day of Christ's resurrection as the new day of rest. The difference is that we are no longer bound by the rules and ways in which to follow the Sabbath. We are free to enjoy Christ's grace.

Growing up, every Friday we would clean and prepare for Sabbath, on Sabbath we never ate out, never watched TV or movies (that weren't about the Bible). It was a day of "you can't." I remember sitting in front of the TV with my sister waiting for the sun to set so we could turn on the TV to watch "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" (as the sun would set later and later we would miss more and more of the show). Now, Sundays is a time of worship, fellowship, rest and just a good time. Bradley and I sometimes go out to eat after church, and sometimes we don't. Sometimes we go for a walk, and sometimes we take a nap. Sundays may be a little slower than the rest of the week, but my prayer is that every day (not just one day) reflects worship back to Christ.

My experience of keeping the Sabbath wasn't all negative. I remember a lot of family time growing up. Every Friday night we would have family worship, where my dad would play the guitar and we would all sing. We would also close the Sabbath with family devotion. The difference (and my point) is I now have experienced freedom through the saving grace of Christ. My practice of the Sabbath has changed from a day of legalism to a lifestyle of praise. How beautiful it is to wake up every morning and say "this is the day that the Lord hath made. I will rejoice and be glad in it."

For further study on the issue of Sabbath:

-Colossians 2: 16, 17

-Romans 14:5-7

-Matthew 12

-Mark 2:27

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cooking...aka ruining dinner

Cooking...what a thorn in my side! How I HATE cooking. I LOVE baking. I'm good at baking. I can make delicious brownies, cakes, cupcakes, cookies you name it I can most likely bake it. And if I don't know how to bake it I have no problem learning how. Cooking is another story. I cannot cook. Since being married I have ruined dinner multiple times. Ruined, as in I started cooking, dinnertime came, me and my husband peered skeptically at the stove and decided eating out would work for us. But, this does not include the countless times I lay moaning on the couch at just the thought of having to fix something for dinner, at that point my very gracious husband suggests eating out. Whenever I cook a good meal I usually take a picture so I can scrapbook it in my "first year of marriage" scrapbook I am making in my head. There are many reasons I hate cooking. Here are just a few...

1. I am bad at it

2. I have no idea what to make.

3. I do not know how to grocery shop to cook effectively. I usually leave the grocery store with bread, cheese, tortillas, cereal and milk. I eat breakfast foods many times twice a day (where my husband eats quesadillas quite frequently).

4. My tiny tiny (but adorable) kitchen just doesn't lend itself to these gourmet creations I would be capable of in a larger space.

5. I am trying to live healthier (thus the working out) and eat healthier, and most of the things I do know how to make are not healthy.

6. Time, do you know how much TIME it takes to cook. Oh my goodness.

7. Crazy crazy cookbooks-they are so difficult it is not even funny. I have 9 cookbooks (10 if you count the one at my in-laws house I sliced in half in my scrapbooking attempts with my sis-in-law.) Most of them are ridiculously complicated even Rachael Ray's 30-minute meals. Actually, I still need to return a couple books to my friend...

I am going to conclude this blog post with a few dishes that I cook very well. If you have any suggests for simple, fast, healthy recipes, please pass them my way! : )

I can make delicious ribs, thanks to our crockpot. Bradley would most likely say he is responsible for this. But nonetheless, it involves cooking so I shall take credit.

I do make very good lasagna...maybe a little dry but we can add sauce.

I love me some enchiladas...don't ask for the recipe because it is different every time.

It's been a fun 8 months of cooking attempts!