Thursday, September 24, 2009


this is just inspired, methinks.

Friday, June 5, 2009

When a Man Loves a Woman...

... he has this waiting for her when she gets home from work:

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Homemade Tortillas


3 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
4-6 Tbsp. vegetable shortening or lard (I use Crisco)
about 1 1/4 cups warm water

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Add vegetable shortening, cutting into the dry ingredients with your hands. Add warm water until the dough becomes soft and elastic. If it's sticky, you've added too much water, add in a little flour until the balance is correct.

Knead the dough for a few minutes.

Make golf ball sized rolls and set them aside to rest for 10-15 minutes.
Heat a griddle, or comal if you have one, to medium high.

Roll out the tortilla dough on a lightly floured surface. I like my tortillas a little thicker, but you can adjust the thickness as you like.

Lay your tortilla on the hot griddle. Let it cook for 15-30seconds and then flip.

Keep them pliant by keeping the freshly made tortillas covered with a tea towel.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Moroccan Dinner, Tyler Florence Style - sorta

Moroccan Spice Mix:
1 cinnamon stick, chopped in pieces
8 whole cloves
1 teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons cumin seed
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
11/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 (31/2 pound) whole free range chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, halved
1/4 bunch fresh cilantro
1 head garlic
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Apricot Couscous:
1 cup couscous
11/2 cups warm water
10 dried apricots
2 green onions, green parts only
2 handfuls fresh mint leaves
2 handfuls fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

To prepare the Moroccan Spice Mix for the Chicken: Combine the cinnamon stick, cloves, cayenne, cumin, fennel, coriander, and paprika in a dry skillet over low heat and toast for just a minute to release the fragrant oils; shake the pan so they don't scorch. In a spice mill or clean coffee grinder, grind the toasted spices together, with 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt and the brown sugar. (A word of advice: make sure you thoroughly wipe out your coffee grinder before you make coffee again - Moroccan spices taste great on chicken but horrible with coffee.)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Rinse the chicken with cool water, inside and out, then pat it dry with paper towels. Massage the chicken skin with the spice rub; make sure you don't miss a spot. Season the inside of the chicken generously with salt and pepper. Stuff the lemons halves, cilantro, and garlic in the cavity and place the chicken in a roasting pan fitted with a rack. Fold the wing tips under the bird and tie the legs together with kitchen string. Drizzle the oil all over the chicken. If you have time, let the chicken marinate for 30 minutes to really get the flavors down deep into the meat. Roast the chicken for 1 hour; pop an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh; if it reads 160 degrees F, it's done. Allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes so the juices can settle back into the meat. Remove and discard the skin from the chicken. Pull the chicken from the bone and shred the meat, with your fingers or 2 forks. Put the shredded chicken in a large bowl and squeeze the lemon halves that have cooked inside the bird over the meat to moisten.
To prepare the Apricot Couscous: Put the couscous in a medium bowl; pour the water over it, stir with a fork to combine. Cover and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes, then uncover and fluff with a fork. Put the apricots, almonds, green onions, mint, and cilantro on a cutting board and coarsely chop everything up; add this to the couscous. Add lemon juice, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Toss gently to combine.


One of the most surprising consequences of reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle was the new found joy of making food from scratch.

This was my first attempt at homemade pizza, something I was pretty hesitant to try. To make it a little easier on myself the first time out, I divided my home-made pizza into three attempts: On the first round, I only made the dough from scratch and used store-bought tomato sauce and mozzarella. It turned out pretty tasty!

My second pizza had homemade dough and homemade tomato sauce:

My third attempt was even better: homemade everything, including basil from my 5 ft basil plant!

It friggin' rocked. :D

Friday, April 10, 2009


I can finally say I am starting to feel like I love my home. Which is to say, I've certainly been proud of what we've been able to do with it, how we've improved it etc etc, but all this time, in the back of my mind, I've held out loving the house because I kept waiting for something, anything, to happen to make us have to move. It must be due to the cumulative years of temporary residences - since college I don't think I've lived in any one place for more than 3 years.
But I LOVE my house. And my garden.

When I put it together before the wedding, I didn't quite realize what an undertaking it was going to be. According to Lasagna Gardening, I should have only built a garden bed that was 4x4ft... yeah, I kinda neglected to read that part. The bed was easily 4x that. And, granted, I thought it looked pretty good for what it was - a hodgepodge collection of flowers, a lone lime tree and decorative grasses that had no rhyme or reason to them, using a gardening method that I'd never tried before. (There's a reason why the day before the wedding I was still frantically stuffing annuals into the ground in the hopes of filling out the gardenscape - it was a little bare looking for all the back breaking work that went into it.)

Now that the garden has had a chance to settle, the annuals are long dead and withered (and mulched), some plants, as it turns out, did really well; others, not so much. Those that survived the drought last summer and the colder than usual Austin winter are blooming like crazy. My little lime tree has exploded with new leafy growth goodness. The lavendar and sage are flowering like crazy. Even my stunted rosemary is showing signs of new growth. As for my mint, well, let's just say I guess I did not read the instructions very carefully, because lo and behold, that one lil' mint plant up and went rogue on me! It spawned about a dozen offshoots that are slowly taking over the garden. If not for the fact that we go through so much mint (mojitos, anyone?) during the summer, I might be upset, but as it is, I'm just glad I don't have to buy any more plants.

And happiness! Spring mulching consisted of 1/4 cu. yd of mulch, as opposed to the 4 cu yds it took to build the sucker. For all that we had no rain and hard freezes, most of the plants fared surprisingly well - to the point that at least, they're coming back like gangbusters.

So far this year we've added a pear tree to the mix (well, to the yard, it's on the opposite side of the garden, but whatever), as well as tomato plants, dill, thyme, oregano, leeks (which, erm, I don't think are supposed to last through summer, but we'll just see what happens, ok?). And shh! I even snuck in three peonies ... although I'll be shocked if they grow into anything. I'm pretty sure I planted them at the wrong time, and I'm not entirely convinced I didn't plant them upside down. Oh well. We'll see.

If I can scrape enough left over money, I'm going to see about getting some squash into the ground, and maybe, maybe a lemon and/or avocado tree. Be still my beating heart - homegrown avocado! I can't wait to have homemade salsa from my own tomatoes, limes and onions, homemade guac from my own avocado tree... on homemade tortillas..., oi, excuse me while I wipe the drool away.


I still need to add images of the garden from the wedding, which was a few weeks after the garden went in, as well as better photos of what the bed as it looks now.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Funniest Craig's List Post

NINJA HAULER: 2005 Nissan Xterra - $12900 (Ronan / Lake County )

Reply to: [?]Date: 2008-12-04, 5:15PM MST OK, let me start off by saying this Xterra is only available for purchase by the manliest of men (or women). My friend, if it was possible for a vehicle to sprout chest hair and a five o'clock shadow, this Nissan would look like Tom Selleck. It is just that manly. It was never intended to drive to the mall so you can pick up that adorable shirt at Abercrombie & Fitch that you had your eye on. It wasn't meant to transport you to yoga class or Linens & Things. No, that's what your Prius is for. If that's the kind of car you're looking for, then just do us all a favor and stop reading right now. I mean it. Just stop. This car was engineered by 3rd degree ninja super-warriors in the highest mountains of Japan to serve the needs of the man that cheats death on a daily basis. They didn't even consider superfluous nancy boy amenities like navigation systems (real men don't get lost), heated leather seats (a real man doesn't let anything warm his butt), or On Star (real men don't even know what the hell On Star is). No, this brute comes with the things us testosterone-fueled super action junkies need. It has a 265 HP engine to outrun the cops. It's got special blood/gore resistant upholstery. It even has a first-aid kit in the back. You know what the first aid kit has in it? A pint of whiskey, a stitch-your-own-wound kit and a hunk of leather to bite down on when you're operating on yourself. The Xterra also has an automatic transmission so if you're being chased by Libyan terrorists, you'll still be able to shoot your machine gun out the window and drive at the same time. It's saved my bacon more than once. It has room for you and the four hotties you picked up on the way to the gym to blast your pecs and hammer your glutes. There's a tow hitch to pull your 50 caliber anti-Taliban, self cooling machine gun. I also just put in a new windshield to replace the one that got shot out by The Man. My price on this bad boy is an incredibly low $12,900, but I'll entertain reasonable offers. And by reasonable, I mean don't walk up and tell me you'll give me $5,000 for it. That's liable to earn you a Burmese-roundhouse-sphincter-kick with a follow up three fingered eye-jab. Would it hurt? Hell yeah. Let's just say you won't be the prettiest guy at the Coldplay concert anymore. There's only 69,000 miles on this four-wheeled hellcat from Planet Kickass. Trust me, it will outlive you and the offspring that will carry your name. It will live on as a monument to your machismo. Now, go look in the mirror and tell me what you see. If it's a rugged, no holds barred, super brute he-man macho Chuck Norris stunt double, then contact me. I might be out hang-gliding or BASE jumping or just chilling with my ladies, but I'll get back to you. And when I do, we'll talk about a price over a nice glass of Schmidt while we listen to Johnny Cash. To sweeten the deal a little, I'm throwing in this pair of MC Hammer pants for the man with rippling quads that can't fit into regular pants. Yeah, you heard me. FREE MC Hammer pants. Rock on.