Learning As I Chop


Posted in Baking/Cooking by R @ Learning As I Chop on October 26, 2010

Lately I’ve been taking lots of shortcuts. Normally I aim to be thorough, but with school, work and life, time-savers tend to be needed. This means some store-bought pre-marinated chicken or frozen veggies from a bag. Not terrible – I mean, it’s not a Lean Cuisine – but not ideal (at least not to me).

This weekend was spent in the country. We visited some farms, ate good food and wore scarves. It was a crisp kind of weekend, and we wound-up itching  for some pumpkin. Just seemed right. We stopped by a great organic foodstore on our way home and headed to the baking section. I wanted to pick up some pumpkin and follow the recipe on the can (H’s idea, suggested while I asked him to find a recipe on his phone). However H requested that I use the mix above instead.

I’ll admit it, I was dubious. Even H’s typical “but it’s organic” argument wasn’t working. But then he got smart and showed me the back. You can’t argue with the ingredients.

Yes, I see the cane juice (which made me nervous – what is cane juice?) but the rest seemed pretty innocent.  I decided to compromise.

We also picked up a few cartons of these gems. Have you seen the yolk of a local, natural egg? As orange as can be. That’s how you know it’s the real deal.

So we went home and I got to work. After 3 or so steps, I was done. It was kind of incredible. See the other shortcut? A pre-made crust. Pie crust, and well dough in general, is on my “to conquer” list. This crust is actually vegan (according to its wrapper), which truthfully made me a little nervous.  But it tasted OK.

Not the best pumpkin pie I’ve had, but it’ll do. I think I prefer pies that feature pumpkin  + something such as Paula Deen’s pumpkin pecan pie or pumpkin cheesecake (a Thanksgiving favorite in our home). Good thing Thanksgiving (aka my favorite holiday) is only weeks away! In the meantime, I have apple cakes to perfect.


Food I Don’t Like

Posted in Baking/Cooking, Food Philosophies by R @ Learning As I Chop on October 21, 2010

I don’t know why I force myself to eat food that I don’t like. Maybe it’s because I aim to be “healthier” or have a more well-rounded/adventurous palette. However I often find myself in the same precarious position – what I want to eat vs what I should eat. I don’t know why this is such a problem for me, as I like various healthy dishes that include things like spinach and chickpeas. But most leafy greens elude my taste buds. They are “not for me,” as one might say. And yet I force myself to eat them. I’ve now decided it’s time to stop, and here’s the reason why.

Cannellini Bean Soup with Kale


  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced, plus 1 or 2 more whole cloves
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 quarts chicken stock, water, or a combination
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large bunch kale, large ribs removed, chopped


Heat oil in a large pot. Add garlic and oregano and cook no more than a minute. Add tomato paste and vinegar, and cook another minute. Add beans and stock and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Add kale and simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour. Season, to taste, again with salt and pepper before serving.

Technically, there is nothing wrong with this soup. I found it on the Food Network, and if you like kale and oregano, I am sure you will love it. It’s also pretty easy to make. However, as I ate this soup, spoonful after spoonful, I kept asking myself what I was doing. I don’t like kate, I definitely don’t like oregano and yet I keep forcing it down my throat. Sure, it was nice to use the beautiful purple kale I found at the green market

But who I am kidding? This isn’t me, and it sure as heck isn’t H either. So kale, it was nice knowing you, but we’re done. I’m gonna stick with some other tried and true paramours instead.

Breakfast for One

Posted in Baking/Cooking by R @ Learning As I Chop on October 16, 2010

Every Friday, H and I eschew plans (unless they are a must) and spend a quiet evening at home. These nights often involve a home cooked meal by me, flowers from H and a nice chunk of bread called challah.  We each eat one or two slices  and then the rest is left for the weekend.

I hate wasting food so feel compelled to be creative with the remaining loaf. This usually leads to challah french toast on Saturday or Sunday. I have small fantasies of following this tradition every weekend until my future children are 18 and leaving for college. But let’s first start with this weekend

Now what do you do when your partner isn’t in the mood for breakfast? Sometimes yummy dishes, like pancakes, must be made in batches. Or, you can scale down the recipe and make french toast for one.


1/3 cup milk

2 eggs

1 tbsp sugar

1/8 tsp salt

Heat your skillet and coat with butter or cooking spray. Dip your bread in batter and brown each side.

Serve immediately.

I like to pair my toast with a fried egg or bit of fruit, the newspaper and a good cup of coffee.

This breakfast takes 15 minutes to make and is heaven, especially good in the cooler months. Enjoy!