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i love grouprecipes and my new cookbook. don’t get me wrong. but i’ve never run into this until i started pulling recipes from both:

1/3 c chopped onion

or

1/2 c diced tomatoes

if i haven’t bought pre-chopped onions or tomatoes (which i pretty much never do, since it’s more expensive in the long run), how do i know how much to cut up? just cut in small quantities until i’ve filled the measurement? that is ridiculous. what happened to, say, 1/2 an onion chopped or 2 tomatoes, diced? what’s wrong with that?

is this a chef thing? like, in a chef kitchen they’ve got giant quantities of everything pre-diced, chopped, peeled, seeded, etc., so that when they do their recipes they can measure this way?

well, hey. i don’t. i chop, dice, peel, seed, etc. while i’m making the recipe, and this is not only confusing but terrifying. what if i buy too little of whatever i need to make the recipe? what if i have left-over things that i don’t know what to do with? how long will extra ingredients last in the fridge? this may not be a big deal for actual cooks who know what they’re doing, but for the beginner it … well, it sucks. it’s already discouraged me from trying a few recipes because i don’t want to waste what ingredients i have — my  food budget is too tight for that.

what i need is a conversion chart along the lines of, “1 tbs minced garlic = 2 cloves, minced”. anybody have one? or better yet, anyone know off the top of their heads?

i was really excited about this recipe. it’s been a long time since i made a cake, mostly because i’ve only ever made one cake. not one cake as in, once i baked a cake. rather, as in, i have made one cake recipe many many times.

it’s a family recipe, passed down on my mother’s side, and it’s sinfully delicious. devil’s food cake from scratch, with buttercream icing from scratch. or at least, i assume it’s buttercream icing, because all that’s in it is some butter, confectioner’s sugar, and a little milk. anyway, it’s amazing, and one day i will share the recipe.

it is also insanely time-consuming to make, and it’s enormous. i don’t dare cut the recipe in half, since it would be too confusing (1 and a half eggs? how does that work) and since it would, to me, violate the spirit of the recipe’s history.

glitchy cakeso, when clotilde posted this one, i was really excited. here was a simple cake recipe that would taste amazing — i knew because she said so, and i believe no one if not her when it comes to food.

but i didn’t end up with cake. i followed the directions to a tee, and i ended up with … well, fudge with a crust is the only way i can describe it. the top set just fine, but everything underneath has the texture of under-cooked brownies. i even (against my better judgment) put the cake back in the oven for a bit, but that had exactly no effect.
don’t get me wrong — i like fudge just as much as the next person. and because i used really good dark chocolate (green & black’s maya gold) it tastes amazing. but it doesn’t taste like amazing cake, which was kind of the point.

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i’ve never been a fan, i confess. probably because i’ve always been a hopeless romantic, and the idea that there’s this one day of the year where you’re supposed to REALLY REALLY love someone bothers the hell out of me. why not REALLY REALLY love someone all year round? or give cards and chocolate and flowers and all that other lovey-dovey stuff on a day they’re not expecting it, to show that you do in fact love them all the time and not just when you’re supposed to?

like i said, hopeless romantic.

thankfully H is of the same mind, and so we give valentine’s day a miss every year. and usually, i manage to pretty much forget about it and get all surprised on the day in February when everyone else in the office shows up wearing some version of red or pink. but this year, being tuned into the blog world, it is IMPOSSIBLE for me to forget!

it seems like just about every blog i go to has something about valentine’s day. even slashfood has gotten in on the pre-v-day action! i expect no less from yumsugar (and love her for it), but slashfood? come on now.

so i would like to give a big shout-out to david, jasmine, clotilde, adam, and kristen for not bombarding me with v-day posts. while they may indeed do a v-day post, i just appreciate not having to hear about it ahead of time.

suzy’s new peti’ve always had a hard time thinking of plants as anything but pets. the bamboo plant i had for all of college not only had a name, but had a place of honor right next to my beta fish.

at least this time, i know what i bought!

isn’t it a beautiful rosemary plant? when i saw it at the grocery store, i couldn’t resist. one of the most difficult things about only cooking for two people is the waste of fresh herbs. i like to use them, i love the way they smell, but they go bad so quickly! and i only need, generally, about 1/3 of them for any given recipe, so i go through a lot of herbs.

why i didn’t think of it earlier, i’m not sure.

now i just have to figure out how to keep it alive. i poked around online and established that i should only water it when it’s completely dry. but nobody had any good tips on clipping it — should i take from the top or the bottom? from the stem, or just the leaves? how long will it take to regrow sections? nobody’s telling. it’s my very first live herb plant, so understandably i’m a bit nervous about it.

here’s hoping that rosemary (not very original, but oh so appropriate) hangs around long enough for me to perfect my technique!

i bought these because it was labeled “leeks” in the grocery store, and i needed leeks for a recipe. the recipe suggested frozen ones, but i couldn’t find them, so off to the veggie aisle i went, looking for a vegetable i have never ever seen.

these are not leeks. i checked with wikipedia. so then, what are they? the grocery store receipt says “anise”, but i looked that up too and it doesn’t look right either. if you know, please fill me in. i can’t figure it out.

mystery vegetable