Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Best Brownies

Captain's Log

New Look! What do we think?

In other news, this is the third apartment from which I've blogged. Can you believe it? Hopefully we'll be settling down soon.

Here's the new kitchen, before we were really moved in:
Always with the spotlights!
And look! We got a real, adult, not-used couch!

Now, back to food. I have this brownie recipe, and I want to share it with you. It's not my own recipe, technically, nor is it a family recipe. I actually got it from… another blog! I feel a little weird about blogging an already-blogged recipe, but on the other hand the original source doesn't show photos of each step so, I mean, I'm bringing way more to the table, right? Right!

These brownies are fudgy and hefty, with a nice crinkly crisp crust on top. They're pretty much what everyone wants out of a brownie, in my opinion. (Conventional brownie discussions claim there's a group that likes "cake-like" and a group that likes "fudgy," but, honestly, who wants cake-y brownies? The gloopy factor is part of the definition of brownie. Just have cake instead!)

Here's the recipe, from
  • 1 1/4c flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2T cocoa powder (the darker the better)
  • 11oz coarsely chopped dark chocolate (I think hacked-up choc chips would be fine!)
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp instant espresso powder (I used instant coffee and.. more on that later)
  • 1 1/4c sugar
  • 1/2c brown sugar
  • 5 eggs, room temp
  • 2 tsp vanilla
 To start, preheat the oven to 350° and grease a pan. The original recipe calls for a 9"x13" pan, but, well, the only pan I have that meets these specs is glass and a little sloped on the edges, making the edge pieces thinner than the inner pieces. I don't like that. Instead I chose to use a wedding gift, a 9"x9" pan, and hope for the best. I tried to use parchment scraps along the bottom so I could "lift the brownies out" when they were cooled, but, well, it didn't work. DO NOT follow my lead here:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Just Checking In

Hi everyone!

So, I'm not dead. We just moved across the country (two week road trip!) and are just now getting settled back East. We should have internet in our apartment pretty soon, and asap thereafter I'll start blogging again.

After all, I'm just about back to where I was when this blog was launched, which is to say: New City, No Job. Progress!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Bridal Apple Pie

Captain's Log

As many of you know, I got married almost a year ago. Ten months, to be more precise. That means that nearly exactly one year ago, on August 2, I had my bridal shower.
I flew East to make final arrangements and to celebrate the wedding with my best gals in a very cool, very Old Virginia location. My sister was the organizer. She had this great idea to make the RSVPs into a recipe book---she asked each invitee to respond on a pre-addressed postcard and, whether the answer was yes or no, to contribute a recipe that she particularly loves so that I, the bride, might have a little something new to work with later on. At the shower I told the ladies that I'd blog their recipes… I'm sure by now they all thought I was lying. 

But no! Last week, I received my recipe book, bound and ready! And I made one of the recipes! And I took photos!

This week's blog is from my mother-in-law. She says on the postcard that it actually comes from her mother, given to her by her grandmother, and that it originates in Women's Home Companion. What history! I just had to give it a shot myself. But first, a quick word on my mother-in-law: She has remarkable spunk and warmth and she set me right at ease when I first met her in… 2007, was it? Thereabouts? She has always welcomed me into the family, even in the early days, which was so valuable to the development of my relationship with my fella. She also models incredible strength and optimism, which I admire and aspire to possess myself. I'm looking forward to our return East, when we can all sit together on the porch and drink wine and snack on Sun Chips.

But on to the pie!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Blueberry Pie

Captain's Log

Summer Dessert Edition

Hi everyone!

Well, it's hot and breezy in Seattle, which makes me feel like doing two things: Swimming and Eating Fruity Baked Goods, like pies and cobblers. Heck, three things: let's add guacamole. And drinking rosé. Um, and sunbathing? Ok, well, I mean, you get it. Most seasons carry with them certain traditions and yearnings and mine involve the above.  

Our grocery store had huge cartons of Oregon blueberries on sale ($4? Maybe?) last week so I got one and immediately thought "how in the world am I going to eat this many blueberries?" My husband said "make smoothies," to which I said "You're right, a pie would be amazing!"

I've never been that much of a pie-baker… maybe 3-4 a year at most. That may be more than a lot of people but I suppose what I mean is that I don't have a "personal recipe" or any particular methods that I can claim as my own. Every time I make a pie, I learn something about more/less fruit, more/less bake time, etc., and then I wait four months before making another one. 


I used to use Smitten Kitchen's all-butter recipe because Crisco creeps me out sometimes, but after a few tries I thought that recipe made a tough crust. Could it have been my methods rather than the recipe? Of course! But this year I chose to abandon SK all the same and try out Ina Garten's recipe instead. And it was amazing! My filling recipe was a little clunkier, but I believe I learned enough from it to instruct you faithful readers with adequate know-how.

Also I don't have a food processor** and so I did all of this by hand. I have a very strong suspicion that pie crust is way, way simpler with a food processor.

**Those of you who attended my bridal shower are probably thinking "Wait, didn't she get an awesome Braun multi-function food processor at her bridal shower? Right off the registry?" and you are correct! We didn't bring back all our wonderful wedding presents because we knew we'd be back in Virginia in a year and it seemed silly to take the larger and/or more fragile items across the country with us. Therefore, we have a whole load of wonderful new-home new-marriage gifts waiting for our return East.

Here's the recipe, filling + crust, to be detailed further below:


(from Ina Garten, 100%)

1.5 sticks cold unsalted butter
1/3 c shortening 
3 c flour
1T sugar
1t salt
6-8T ice water


(from The Kitchn, with some adaptations based on my experience)

6 cups blueberries
3/4-1 cup sugar
4-6 T cornstarch
zest from 1/2 lemon
2T lemon juice

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Pinto Beans and Ham

Captain's Log

I've been doing some reflection, and can you believe it was just a year ago that I'd (finally) gotten a job? Seven months out here, countless applications. Of course I was particular about the kinds of jobs I applied to, but still it was quite a long dry spell! (For the unfamiliar, I work at a little grocery store that is operated by a restaurant group. It's their first venture into retail and it's been really interesting watching the company adapt to customer needs, figure out how to properly use the space, how to re-order and stock things efficiently. How to manage staff. And so forth.) The store was still under construction, not open to the public, and we were training in a nearby restaurant. Even now we're three weeks away from the anniversary of opening. It was cool and rainy much of that time. I and my colleagues were so curious about what the store would be like. It felt like such an experiment. 

Anyway, this has nothing to do with today's post. 

I am a huge fan of bean soup. Of the beans + ham variety. Split pea, yes please! Red beans, pass 'em over! And for today: Pinto beans! Beans are so inexpensive and such a good source of nutrition. I never really thought about this as a kid, when we'd have beans fairly regularly, but it also makes a huge difference if you cook them from their dry form rather than use them from a can. If you use beans from a can, I think they just taste like the water they were packed in. If you cook them yourself, they produce  a lovely hearty broth which is simply like no other. 

My method for cooking beans is pretty straightforward:

Friday, May 16, 2014

Chocolate Pavlova

Captain's Log

Hi everyone!

Happy springtime/early summer! We just got back from an awesome family wedding/vacation along the Gulf Coast. I'm sunburned and bug-bitten, but I'd expect no less from leisuring in the wild South. 

Here's some photo evidence:

Not bad, eh?

Now, back to food, ya lazy bums!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Meatball Stew

Captain's Log

Hi you guys! 

How's it going??

I've been embroiled with work (a promotion!) and a FitBit battle and thus my free time has been somewhat… absorbed… by exercise and resting and whatnot. As always I'm still cooking, though. This morning I plugged in the ole camera to load my food photos and I discovered meals and photo sessions I had totally forgotten about. You see, I always intend to write blog posts, it's just my execution that needs work.

Anyway, my goal today was to type up an amazing pinto beans 'n' ham soup, but instead I'll do meatballs because, lo and behold, I had the whole cooking venture all photographed and ready to go. These are from February.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Stovetop Steak

Captain's Log

Growing up, we had steak pretty much every Friday night. Every week! Can you believe it? It sounds so luxurious, in a way, and so sinful, in another. My parents are die-hard fans of Dale's Steak Seasoning and always used that as their marinade before grilling on a gas grill in the backyard. Mom would marinate and prepare the veggies, Dad would grill, and it all would come together in a glorious dinner to be enjoyed as a family while watching a movie.

(Ok, in all honesty, the Family Unit aspect of this dinner was somewhat lessened once my sister and I were teenagers with cars and friends and boyfriends… but the cherished memory lives on! And many of those boyfriends and now-husbands have enjoyed Steak Night themselves.)

Dale's comes from Birmingham, Alabama, and thus has only regional availability. What's a gal to do when wanting that awesome family steak, but not having a) the obligatory marinade, and b) the essential gas grill?

Enter The Salt Trick. I did not invent this. I think I read about it somewhere once, and I know my brother-in-law has done this before (which makes me think it is an Alton Brown technique, or perhaps America's Test Kitchen? Or Cook's Illustrated magazine? Help me out, Sister.). But anyway here is what you do:

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Potica, or Very Important Holiday Pastry

Hello Old Friends!

I have been cooking, I swear.

…birthday presents for Mom: