Runner Beans

November 19, 2009

What I Ate…

Filed under: Recipes — Tags: , , , — Andrea @ 11:54 am

OK, it’s been long enough since I posted the trout picture…even though it’s a funny picture, I don’t like seeing it every time I open my browser. 😉

Here’s a quick post about what I ate for breakfast yesterday: Persimmon Almond Oatmeal. Earlier this week I was snacking on almonds and persimmon sprinkled with cinnamon and was inspired to incorporate these foods into oatmeal. Oatmeal with brown sugar was my staple breakfast in college, which I grew rather tired of eating. Now if I have oatmeal, it has to be made on the stove and have all sorts of sweet, savory and crunchy mix-ins, and that is exactly what this oatmeal has.

Persimmon Almond Oatmeal


1 c. water

1/4 c. rolled oats

1/4 c. rolled multigrain cereal (such as Country Choice Multigrain Hot Cereal from Trader Joe’s)

1 small persimmon, peeled and chopped into small pieces

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed

1 tablespoon shredded, sweetened (!) coconut

2 tablespoons roasted almonds, chopped

generous sprinkling of cinnamon



1. Bring the water to a boil in a small pot, adding a pinch of salt.

2. Add oats, persimmon, flaxseed and coconut to the water, stirring frequently  so it doesn’t overflow.

3. Once the water is evaporated, spoon oatmeal into bowl and garnish with almonds and cinnamon. Serve with milk.

And there you have a filling, warming, Autumn-inspired bowl of oats to carry you through a busy morning.

What I Ate For Dinner

Filed under: Recipes, seafood — Tags: , , — Andrea @ 12:42 am

This harrowing photo discloses what I ate for dinner on Monday night: trout.

When Sam pulled the trout out from the broiler and called me to look at it, I couldn’t help but smile and reach for my phone to take a photo (hence the photo quality). The trout was staring right at us with his milky white eyes, fishy-lips parted, imploring us, “Why?! Why did you splay me open and subject me first to a torrential downpour of ground black pepper and then proceed to broil my delicate white flesh beneath those merciless coils?” But we didn’t feel too sorry for this trout. Or his three trout brothers.

Silly fish faces aside, trout makes a wonderful meal. In this June 2009 post I wrote about how we like to grill trout with a little olive oil and black pepper. Since then we’ve also tried pan-frying trout and broiling it. All our trout cooking techniques must be attributed to the fishmonger at our local Whole Foods. Every time we order trout he stops what he is doing, looks us in the eye and says, “You know a real nice way to prepare trout is to…” We smile and nod, remembering that last time he told us the exact same thing: how great it is to grill trout because you didn’t have to turn it and that it is wonderful stuffed with scallops and wrapped in bacon (“It’s got a cavity, right? So you might as well use it and stuff it with scallops. Wrap it in bacon–like you’re wrapping it with string–and when the bacon flavor goes in the trout it’s real nice…”). I guess it doesn’t hurt to hear one more time how a man who knows his fish likes to eat it.

In closing, I’d like to say this: don’t be offput by trout because when you buy it comes with the head attached, eyeballs in place, those fishy-lips. Give trout a chance and maybe, just maybe, your trout will have something interesting to say to you.

November 10, 2009

Good Old American Apple Pie

Filed under: dessert, Recipes — Tags: , — Andrea @ 12:38 am

Nov 09 020With Veteran’s Day on Wednesday, celebrate those who served our nation with something very American — apple pie. Using both sweet and tart apples in the pie filling creates a perfect balance between sweet and tart. I used Fuji and Granny Smith apples and couldn’t imagine a tastier filling. I also added a couple handfuls of fresh cranberries to the filling, which added a pop of color and tartness.

Good Old American Apple Pie

Make the Pie Dough

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4-6 tablespoons ice water

Blend together flour, butter, shortening, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-sized) lumps of butter. Drizzle 4 tablespoons ice water evening over mixture and gently stir with a fork (or pulse) until incorporated.

Squeeze a small handful of dough: if it doesn’t hold together, add more ice water 1/2 tablespoon at a time, stirring (or pulsing) until incorporated. Do not overwork dough, or pastry will be tough.

Turn dough out onto a work surface. Divide dough into 8 portions. With the heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather all dough together, with a pastry scraper if you have one. Divide dough in half, form each half into a ball, and then flatten each into a 5-inch disk. If dough is sticky, dust lightly with additional flour.

Make the Pie Filling

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
  • 2 1/2 pounds apples, peeled, cored, and each cut into 10 wedges
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Basic Pastry Dough for a double-crust pie
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash

Put a large baking sheet on middle oven rack and preheat oven to 425*F.

Whisk together flour, zest, cinnamon, allspice, salt and 2/3 cup sugar in a large bowl. Gently toss with apples and lemon juice.

Roll out 1 piece of dough (keep remaining piece chilled) on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13-inch round. Fit it into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim edge, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Refrigerate shell while you roll out dough for top crust.

Roll out remaining piece of dough on a lightly floured surface into an 11-inch round.

Spoon filling into shell. Cover pie with pastry round and trim with kitchen shears, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Press edges together, then crimp decoratively. Lightly brush top of pie with egg and sprinkle all over with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. With a small sharp knife, cut 3 steam vents in top crust.

Bake pie on hot baking sheet for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375*F and continue to bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, about 40 minutes more. Cool pie on a rack to warm or room temperature, 2 to 3 hours.

Recipe from The Gourmet Cookbook.

November 6, 2009

Hearty Chicken Vegetable Soup

Filed under: Recipes, soup, vegetables — Tags: , , — Andrea @ 5:18 pm
chicken vegetable soupEvery day my inbox gets flooded email newsletters. There are a few, however, that I secretly love to read. One of those is the Epicurious Recipe Flash, which gives a sneak peek at Epicurious’ new recipes and featured articles. Yesterday the “6 Foods to Fight the Flu” guide caught my eye. Sam and I decided to make the Hearty Chicken Vegetable Soup featured in the guide. Like many of the people who made comments on the recipee, we decided to make a few changes of our own: we switched the amounts of chicken broth and water; added a chopped potato, a glug of Marsala wine, plenty of fresh herbs; and Sam insisted we add diced jalepeno to give it kick (and I’m glad we did!). The recipe below reflects our changes, but feel free to change it however you like.


Hearty Chicken and Vegetable Soup


Serves 4-6

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 1/3″ thick slices
  • 2 medium celery ribs, cut crosswise into 1/3″ thick slices
  • 1 medium potato, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 2 tablespoons Marsala wine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • diced jalepeno for garnish


  1. Bring water and broth to a simmer in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan. Add chicken and simmer, uncovered, 6 minutes. Remove pan from heat and cover, then let stand until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and cool 10 minutes. Reserve poaching liquid, uncovered.
  2. While chicken is poaching, cook onion in oil in a 4-quart heavy pot, covered, over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add carrots, celery, salt, and pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add poaching liquid and marsala wine and simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. While vegetables are cooking, shred chicken into 1/4-inch-wide strips (about 1 inch long). When vegetables are done simmering, stir chicken into soup along with parsley, herbs and jalepeno.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious. Read the Flu Foods Guide.

November 5, 2009

Happy Citizenship!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 11:40 pm
11 5 08 053

Before the day is over, I'd like to give a shout-out to Sam and say "Congratulations!" because one year ago today, November 5, 2008, Sam became a U.S. Citizen! I love you, Sam!

Kiss Your Cold Goodbye with Wellness Formula

Filed under: Informational — Tags: , , — Andrea @ 7:42 pm


And now, the long-awaited Wellness Formula post. I was first introduced to Wellness Formula one year ago by Sam during the onslaught of the cold and flu season. Sam had gone into Whole Foods looking for Airborne, but was redirected to another product — Wellness Formula — by the sales woman in the health & nutrition department. The woman was so enthusiastic about the effectiveness of Wellness Formula that Sam decided to try it. Since then, we’ve been preaching the wonders of Wellness Formula.

As an “herbal defense complex,” Wellness Formula contains many different vitamins, minerals, herbs and antioxidants to help your body fight illness: you’ll find Vitamins A, C, D, Zinc, Copper, Garlic Clove, Echinacea, Horehound Aerial Parts (hmm, that sounds a bit odd, no?), Olive Leaf Extract, Bioflavanoids, Goldenseal Root, Ginger Root Extract and many other medicinal elements with very interesting names. I should warn you, though, even with all those good-for-you things mixed up into a single capsule or tablet, they taste pretty awful. But I guess it’s not such a bad thing if taking Wellness Formula gets you to drink lots and lots of extra water.

While there is a whole line of Wellness Formula products, the basic Wellness Formula comes in two forms: tablets and capsules. The only difference I can detect is that 1 tablet is equivalent to 2 capsules. They make up for this discrepancy by adding more capsules to a bottle of Wellness Formula, so I don’t really think you are losing or saving money by buying either tablets or capsules.

At the first sign of a cold (or “imbalance,” as the bottle says), pop a few of these VITY Award-winning pills and you’ll be sure to nip that cold in the bud.

Not so sure about Wellness Formula? or dying to learn more? Visit the Wellness Formula website and listen to this 5 minute podcast from the Whole Foods blog.

A Post Delayed

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 11:38 am

laptops_webIn my blog post on Tuesday,  I promised to “expound the wonders of Wellness Formula” the following day, Wednesday. Well, as you may have noticed Wednesday came and went with no such post. I fully intended to write my post last evening. I sat on my bed with my laptop and struggled to plug the power cord into my laptop’s socket. Taking a closer look at the socket, I realized that I in fact was not holding my laptop, but Sam’s. You see, we have nearly identical laptops and I had by mistake taken his laptop instead of mine when I left his house earlier. Not knowing the password to his computer, I couldn’t use it to write my blog post. I felt guilty for letting my blog readers down, but decided that I would have to write my post the next day and should just go to bed. I have to do some other work now, but will post about Wellness Formula later. Ciao!

November 3, 2009

A Little Nightcap

Filed under: Beverages — Tags: , , — Andrea @ 11:20 pm

honey lemon brandy tea 011honey lemon brandy tea 030

November brings cooler days, darker evenings, anticipation of the holidays and–drat it!–colds and the flu! I have been very fortunate to not have more than a sore throat in the past few days because Sam has had an awful cold and over half of my mom’s 5th graders are sick with the flu! In addition to get getting lots and lots of sleep and taking my favorite Wellness Formula (it’s more effective than Airborne!), I’ve been drinking lots of hot water with lemon and honey to soothe that tickle in my throat. A couple days ago I discovered that a schluck of Brandy in my honey lemon water adds a delicious flavor (and calms that sore throat, of course!). This evening I had my little honey-lemon-Brandy nightcap in a lovely, wistful teapot from my Aunt Linda. There used to be a cup on the bottom, but it broke during a move. Not to worry, though, because I love to use my “A” cup that Dani gave me for Christmas last year. If you’re feeling under the weather, have a little nightcap tonight and stay tuned because tomorrow I will expound the wonders of Wellness Formula.

A Few More Halloween Pics

Filed under: Restaurants & Excursions — Andrea @ 12:30 am
Halloween 09 006

Stirring the caramel, eyes constantly glued to the thermometer (who says a watch pot never boils?).

Halloween 09 007


Halloween 09 005

Chef Sam.

Halloween 09 002

Team Very-Sticky-Halloween-Caramel-Corn.

November 1, 2009

Very Sticky Caramel Corn

Filed under: dessert, Recipes — Tags: — Andrea @ 11:59 pm

Halloween 09 004 From 7th – 9th grade I wanted to be a chef. We were receiving subscriptions to cooking magazines for the first time (Cooks Illustrated and Cooking Light) and I spent my weekends making cinnamon rolls and lemon blueberry pound cake. Erica was my parnter-in-crime: we went to different schools, but every time we were together we baked or cooked some sweet treat.

Sometime during those years my late grandmother Charlotte, who was an excellent seamstress, made me a white chef’s jacket and chef’s hat. I outgrew the small chef’s jacket, but luckily she had made a second chef’s outfit, which eventually found its way to me. For Halloween this year Sam and I decided to indulge our love of cooking and dress up as chefs. Sam is wearing one of the chef’s jackets my grandmother made and we are both wearing hats she made. You can’t see so well in this picture, but I am wearing official chef’s pants with pictures of kitchen utensils that I got from the Culinary Institute of America in New York.

We figured it would be a shame to wear such stylin’ chef’s outfits and not cook in them, so we made a batch of very sticky caramel corn from The caramel corn wasn’t supposed to be as sticky as it was, but we didn’t have enough time to wait for the caramel mixture to reach the hard crack stage (290*f), so we stopped at the hard ball stage (250*f). That said, the recipe below has excellent flavor, though I’m not sure if waiting till the caramel reaches 290*f is realistic; we cooked our caramel for at least 40 minutes. Alternative recipes that I’ve seen simply have you bring the caramel mixture to a boil, pour it over the popcorn and bake in the oven for an hour, stirring every 10 minutes. I’m planning to try another batch of caramel corn this month using this method, so check back for updates!

Caramel and Fleur de Sel Popcorn


Makes 16 cups

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup popcorn kernels
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Vegetable-oil cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fleur de sel


  1. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add popcorn, and cover. Cook, shaking pot frequently, until corn has finished popping. Transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Heat butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved and butter has melted. Clip a candy thermometer to side of pan, and cook until mixture reaches 290. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla and baking soda.
  3. Drizzle syrup evenly over popcorn, and toss to coat. Spread popcorn on prepared baking sheet, and sprinkle with fleur de sel. Let cool completely, then separate popcorn into pieces. Popcorn can be stored in airtight containers for up to 3 days.

Recipe from Marth Stewart Weddings.

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