Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What I do all day...

I've had a lot of free time lately.  While Michael is studying away I've had to get creative to keep myself busy.  Only recently have I started working part-time, so Moose and I were spending a lot of quality time together the last few weeks. 

I really like crafting and baking, but I can only bake so much before my pants start miraculously shrinking.   So I decided to focus my efforts on less edible creations.  Here are some pictures of things I've made.  I'm pretty proud of them.  It's very satisfying to make something that you actually use/give to someone else. 

I've sewed a little before now but never extensively.  My mom is awesome at sewing and she gave me her old sewing machine when we moved to Iowa.  It's awesome and I love it!  My first project was the ruffley scarf above. 

 This was completely experimental.  I didn't have a pattern but I wanted to try and make a baby romper. I was shocked that it came out the way it did.  This one is going to be a gift for a friend that will remain unnamed.

I've been wanting to try and make some homemade pillow covers.  I found this white sweater at Goodwill for $3.  I was perfect for a knitted pillow case. 

I have a weird obsession  with wreaths.  I secretly want one for each month.  This wreath is made from old book pages that are rolled into flowers.  Perfect for September I think. 

That's what I've been doing all day.  It's fun having time to do things that you've been wanting to do for months.  It's too bad I can't get paid hourly for making crafts.  If that were the case Michael and I would be rich.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Bed

It is ridiculously hot in Iowa right now (it was over 110 degrees this past week). However, it won't always be this hot. Eventually it will go from this

to this.

Michael and I decided that we needed a comforter to keep us warm during snowy Iowa winter nights. As we were looking around for sweet deals on duvets we happened upon this picture.

Michael is anti-color. I LOVE color. Right now we have 4 different colors of throw pillows on our bed. It's my dream come true but Michael isn't into it. When Michael informed me that he really liked this bed I was surprised by how much I liked it too. Don't you think it looks like sleeping on a fluffy, ruffly cloud?

The price tag for the white Pottery Barn bedding above is over $700. We don't have that kind of cash. So, the last few weekends have been spent searching for similar bedding. We weren't having much success until this weekend. On Friday we found an awesome quilt and matching shams (originally priced at $260) for $70 at Macy's. That kicked our bedding search into high gear.

We really wanted the Pottery Barn duvet cover. It was expensive, but doable thanks to an extremely generous gift from Emily Andersen's (Michael's friend Cody's wife) mom. I made Cody and Emily's wedding cake as a gift and her family gave us a gift card to Williams-Sonoma/Pottery Barn to say thanks. Nothing is better than receiving an unexpected package (thanks Lloyd family)!

On Saturday, we drove to Smitty's BBQ with some of our best friends here in San Antonio (thanks Rodgers, Ballards, and Rupps). After eating our body weight in meat went to the following stores in the following order:

Pottery Barn Outlet
Another Macy's
Bed Bath & Beyond
Restoration Hardware
Pottery Barn
Probably another Macy's
Another Ross
Bed Bath & Beyond

This might seem a bit excessive, and it was.  What can I say, we were consumed.  In the end it all payed off.  Thanks to a freaking amazing sale at Macy's and some lucky finds at Target we were able to get all of the components for our Pottery Barn look-alike bed for around $190. Now we have a bed that will keep us warm when we move to Iowa in TWELVE(ish) DAYS, as well as some good quality blankets/shams that will last us a very long time.

Here is the finished product.

I had to throw in some color somewhere.

Now we just need to train Moose to never jump on the bed, ever again.

Friday, May 20, 2011

My lifes work....

As Michael pointed out, I am not the blogging type. I love reading blogs. But, there is no way I could come up with enough interesting material to have my own. Plus, on a bad day I might decide to write out my feelings and bear my soul to the blogger universe, which as I have experienced vicariously, never ends well.

That being said, when Michael started this blog I knew I would have to make a guest appearance to write about my greatest love in the dessert world. Brownies. The recipe that follows this post is the culmination of a decade long search for the perfect brownies.

*note: as I write this I am watching Food Network and they just boiled a turtle. Gross.

Anyway, brownies are tricky. The box mix is usually better than what people make from scratch. I don't care who you are. You could be a Pastry Chef in Paris, or great Aunt Melva whose been baking brownies for 50 years. I bet a Ghirardelli triple chocolate brownie mix could eat your brownies for breakfast, spit them out and then eat them again.

At least so I thought. I searched high and low, trying every recipe I could find. Even the brownie recipe I got in culinary school didn't make the cut. My search was given new inspiration when I ate a brownie at The Chocolate, a bakery in Orem, Utah. These brownies were a perfect 10 in my book. Really fudgey, they had a nice dark chocolate flavor with caramel undertones. They were dense and very thick. I actually wrote the pastry chef to get the recipe. She wouldn't give it to me, but did give me some helpful hints. She uses no leavening (baking soda/powder), and she whips the eggs to the ribbon.

Very few recipes have instructions like these, so this helped my search, but I just wasn't having success. About a month ago I was looking through my favorite cookbook "Baking: From my Home to Yours" by Dorie Greenspan.

There are about 10 brownie recipes and I happened upon one that I hadn't tried yet, actually, I hadn't even looked at yet. The steps were all there, plus it called for melted chocolate, and little flour (good signs in my book). For years this recipe was right under my nose. So I tried them, and now I can die happy.

These brownies are fantastic. Truly the best I've had. They are thick, fudgey, better the next day, dense, chocolatey brownies. To up the caramel flavor I substituted 1/2 a cup of b. sugar for part of the gran. sugar. No other changes are necessary, in fact follow the directions carefully, because Dorie is a baking goddess.

Rick Katz's Brownies for Julia

These were created by pastry chef Rick Katz. He made them while working with Julia Child filming the PBS series "Baking with Julia".

1 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. salt
2 sticks unsalted butter cut into small pieces
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 c. gran sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 t. vanilla
4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9" baking pan.

Whisk flour and salt together.

In a double boiler melt butter and chocolate. Stir until just melted. Add 1/2 cup gran sugar and 1/2 c. brown sugar to chocolate mixture. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add vanilla. Allow it to cool.

Put remaining 1 cup of gran sugar in stand mixer and whisk in the eggs. Add half of the sugar egg mixture to warm chocolate and stir gently.

Beat the remaining sugar-egg mixture until it has doubled in volume. This will probably take about 3 minutes.

Fold whipped eggs into chocolate mixture until barely incorporated. Sprinkle dry ingredients over batter and fold them in, working only until they disappear.

Place batter into the pan and bake.

Bake for 25-28 minutes, or until the top looks dry and a knife poked into the center comes out mostly clean. cool to room temperature.

These brownies are a bit fragile, and are even better the next day.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Moroccan Bites = Michael's Delights

Food has a way of transporting you to another place like nothing else. Today, we had Moroccan food for lunch, and for a brief moment I felt as if I had been transported to a place both far and away. That is, until something happened that always happens when you're eating ethnic food in the good ol' US of A--reality hits and America rears its inescapably American head.

Today, she reared her head in the form of an ice cold Dr. Pepper and a strip mall. But those are just aesthetics. In fact, I'd be mad if they didn't have Dr. Pepper, and what good ethnic joint doesn't call a strip mall home? Let's just say that even though I was consciously in the United States, the food was good, presumably authentic, and the service was friendly.

The place, you ask? Moroccan Bites.

I actually first heard about the place earlier this week on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. When I realized how close I worked/lived to Moroccan Bites, I had to try it for myself. (And let's face it, I'm always looking for an excuse to eat out.)

I ordered the meat combo, a combination of chicken, beef, and lamb kebabs, served over rice, with lentils on the side. Anne ordered the lamb shank with Moroccan vegetables. I liked my meal and Anne LOVED hers. Her words: "I could live off the broth in the bottom of this bowl." To qualify that statement, lamb possesses magical properties in Anne's psyche. For her, lamb done well is like manna from heaven. And this was lamb done well.

After lunch, we sampled their cigar baklava (baklava made in the shape of a cigar) and what I think were chebakia, a fried honey dessert that tasted like Honey Nut Cheerios. Let me just say that the baklava was THE BEST baklava I've ever had (Anne, too).

As we walked out of the restaurant we were already planning our next trip back. I might even stop by tomorrow for more pastries.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Santa Maria Tri-tip

Over my life I've lived in many places, but California will always be my home. No matter where I find myself, when I hear mention of sand, beaches, movie stars, and freeways, I feel a pang in my heart calling me back to a different time and a different place. Or maybe the pang is from the cholesterol pulsing through my veins from indulging (or over indulging) in one of my favorite meals.

I'm talking about the perfectly seasoned, crispy, and all-around awesome Santa Maria tri-tip made famous in (you guessed it) Santa Maria, California. Though the locals are very proud to keep the exact recipe their little secret (a fact revealed by a simple Google search and not by knocking on Santa Marians' doors begging for the secret), another Google search provides many attempts at cracking the code and replicating the original.

The best recipe I've been able to find is Bobby Flay's. I don't always love his stuff, but this one is pretty dang good.

If you don't have a grill, don't worry, I don't either. Instead, I use my beloved Breville Panini Press, a little appliance that comes close to winning second place in my heart (right after Anne, of course). The battle for numero dos is actually between several other kitchen appliances, pots, pans, and my dog. I just can't decide who--rather, what--deserves that coveted place.


Inside or out, cook the tri-tip to medium rare, let it rest ten minutes, and slice it thinly against the grain. Eat, reach food nirvana, and die happy. It's that simple.

Complement it with some butter-smothered harico vert and your favorite mashed potatoes. Thank me later.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Meet the Bloggers

Welcome to Anne and Michael Eat, a fluid idea for an awesome blog-to-be spawned by me, Michael.

For all intents and purposes, I will be the voice of this blog and Anne will play the ambiguous role of blogger's wife--a supporting character who will on occasion grace our internet audience with blogging nirvana, but who will probably be blogged about WAY more than she will blog herself.

Ok, I'll just say it. Anne will probably never blog.

As for me, as long as I'm passionate, I'm posting. And if there's anything Anne and I are passionate about, it's food.

We eat out. We eat in. We try everything and we'll attempt to make anything. We have success stories and we cringe when we think about our culinary disasters. Anne's a trained pastry chef/food scientist and I'm an all-out foodie. In short, Anne and Michael Eat.

I won't make any definite promises about what is to come, but I will say that I am excited. It has been too long since I've reveled in the glow of my back-lit words on the computer screen.

So here's to good food with a healthy dose of blogging.