Learning As I Chop

Hello from the Other Side

Posted in Baking/Cooking, mom foods by R @ Learning As I Chop on March 27, 2012

Hi Friends, I know it’s been a while. By now you’ve probably guessed that I’ve had my baby, a lovely girl whom we’ll call D. Though she has been a pretty mellow and relatively easy child (knock wood), the first two months were a period of adjustment. However now that we’re into month three, I’ve decided it’s time to venture back into the kitchen. This re-entry was prompted by the perusal through Food and Wine during a moment of quiet downtime. I was browsing through the magazine when I happened upon this lovely chicken recipe.

If you’ve been following my blog at all, you know that I am a sucker for leeks. So that, plus the peas and generally healthy seeming quality of the dish, appealed to me. During the week, a lot of cooking doesn’t happen. H comes home work, hangs out with the baby and I either try to whip together a simple dinner, go to the gym or just collapse on the couch. The weekends are more manageable, which means Sunday night dinners are a good and probably attainable goal.

Last Sunday night arrived and I read the recipe. “I have to use the oven?!” I exclaimed. Yes, it had been that long. Pathetic. I knew it was now or never. So, with D fully fed and H entertaining her, I got to chopping, simmering, baking and stirring. Let me tell you, it felt good.

Once I passed my initial annoyance about the oven, the recipe was really simple. (Although I do admit that I skipped the part with the broiler.) The allotted baking period is especially good for feeding your child and/or cleaning the dishes, which allows you to multi-task. I also used a new ingredient – white balsamic vinegar. Truthfully, I’m not sure I tasted the difference between white and regular balsamic. I bet you can skip that purchase and just use the dark stuff you have in your cabinet.

When I first described the recipe to H, who nicely agreed to eat my experiment for dinner, I said the dish reminded me of French or Italian cooking. But once I ate this supper, Indian cuisine immediately came to mind. Something about the combination of tarragon and peas, paired with couscous, brought me back to those out-on-the-town Indian suppers that H and I used to enjoy. Nevertheless, this dish was hearty, delicious and pretty light. We even had enough for leftovers, which I’m sure will make any new mama happy.

Now that I’m back in the apron (at least on Sundays), I hope to see you around these parts a little more often. In the meantime, enjoy!

Magical Cookies

Posted in Baking/Cooking, mom foods by R @ Learning As I Chop on January 12, 2012

I always knew that motherhood would take me to new and interesting places. Yet I never expected that it would take me here:

No stranger to  health food – I’ve enjoyed the occasional green monster and plate of quinoa – I usually stay away from foods that sound more like bacteria, such as yeast. And yet, while I sit here and wonder if every little twinge and pinch is “it,” I decided to do something more productive with my time than watch trashy tv. Since you never know what will happen or what to expect, I decided to arm myself with some magical cookies in case things get a little tricky. Did you know that you could bake cookies, freeze and then enjoy them at a later date? I didn’t. Thanks to Facebook friends for teaching me that tip.

Once I got started, things began to get a little less intimidating. The first instruction is to mix some of the flax seed with water and let sit for a few minutes. Considering how un-appetizing it sounds, the flax seed didn’t smell too offensive.

After a few minutes, the mixture thickened into a paste, reminding me of a grainy mustard. I then proceeded to follow the usual cookie steps – cream your butter, mix sugars, sift flour – and then I got to the yeast. Honestly, I really hope these cookies work because willingly adding yeast to my food creeps me out. It doesn’t smell too good either. But into the mix it went, and was quickly whisked into and hidden by the flour.

A few steps and about 10 minutes later, I had a nice amount of cookies on my hands. The majority of them are going into the freezer for a hopefully soon-to-be determined later date, but of course I had to try one. Here’s my plate, together with a nice cup of red raspberry  leaf tea.

These cookies were much better than expected. Would I eat them for fun? Probably not. But does the oatmeal and chocolate mask the magic, kind of stinky ingredients? Absolutely. Now let’s hope they work. In the meantime, I hope your 2012 is off to a fabulous start. Enjoy!

A Comedy of Errors

Posted in Baking/Cooking by R @ Learning As I Chop on September 30, 2011

I had lots of plans this past weekend. They included going to yoga, having lunch with a friend and baking for Rosh Hashanah. However what often happens when you make plans? Things don’t always turn out the way you intend. Rather than doing all of the fun things mentioned above, I wound-up laid-up with a cold for three days. This meant no fun except for lots of All in the Family reruns and homemade soup from H. I therefore went to Rosh Hashanah dinner with no baked goods and a feeling of disappointment.

The next day, I found myself with free time in the afternoon. So what did I do? I decided to set things right and enter the kitchen. I chose this recipe from Martha Stewart with the intention of baking an apple cake that H and I could enjoy after dinner. However a few problems. First, I had no springform pan. I really have no idea how to maintain them. Two down and two broken. After last year’s mishap, I wasn’t about to risk it. H and I went on a small search around the neighborhood but none were to be found. I therefore decided to use what I had and see what happened. Worst case, I’d have an interesting tale to tell you.

So I copied the recipe and moved into the kitchen. At 6 months pregnant, I definitely think I’m experiencing the fun syndrome known as placenta head. First, I misread the baking powder measurements and only added half of the needed amount.  Of course I realized this error after the batter had been poured over the shredded apples and into the pan. So I scrapped my first batch and started again. I’d say peeling (apples, potatoes, carrots) is my most hated kitchen chore, but I was willing to peel twice in order to make a good cake. And then I did it again – I misread the ingredients for a second time and only added one rather than two eggs into the batter. At this point, I was done. I wasn’t  about to peel apples for a third time. Plus, since I was already risking it with the wrong type of pan, I figured I’d roll my dice some more.

The result? Not so bad. The cake was pretty moist and it hit the spot. I wonder what would’ve happened if I had actually followed the recipe…