baking · brunch · cake · dessert · quick breads · Yummy

Cinnamon Bread and Farmer’s Market Update

Last Saturday was my first day as a vendor at a farmer’s market.

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The whole thing still feels surreal. How am I allowed to sell shit at a farmer’s market? It just seems like something that would happen to someone else. Don’t I need a more specialized license for this? Well, yes, but it wasn’t difficult to get. Of course, there are all these fucking regulations about what I can and cannot sell to the public, but I’m still allowed to sell my baked goods to the general public.¬†That blows my fucking mind. And people bought things. That is the really crazy part.

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They bought things despite the fact that I am not a pastry chef, and despite the fact that I used to whisk egg whites into peaks with a fucking fork, and despite the fact that I once thought a head of cabbage was a head of lettuce. These people didn’t care that I learned how to bake without a mixer, or that I once made horrifically tart/disgusting raspberry coconut cookies, or that I used store-bought pie crust until a few years ago, or even that I still don’t have a clue how to properly decorate a cake. I can’t use fondant, I’ve never used a spring-form pan, and I don’t know how to adjust my ratios to properly use cake and pastry flour instead of all-purpose flour. No one cared about any of that bullshit. All they cared about was eating a deliciously moist slice of freshly made rhubarb bread, baked with the rhubarb that’s taking over my friend’s yard, while soaking in a few hours of sunshine with their friends at an outdoor market. They don’t see the mistakes and hesitation behind the scenes – they just see perfectly round chocolate chip cookies with hand-chopped dark chocolate and flecks of glittery sea salt. They bought them all up and chatted with me about the neighborhood, making me feel connected and welcomed into this new space. T looked at me a few hours into the market, having just sold another few oatmeal crisps, my hand resting in my apron pocket and a smile across my face, and said, “You’re radiating. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you this happy.”

There is something so indescribably satisfying about watching people eat and enjoy the things you’ve made. And then come back to buy more! I still can’t believe I’m allowed to do this after years of wandering markets wondering who you had to be to be apart of them. I love it when something seems like magic, but it’s actually real. That’s how being a market vendor feels to me.

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I made this cinnamon bread during a last baking frenzy in my old apartment. My oven in that place was janky as fuck, and ran cold. This meant it was a guessing game with setting a timer for baking, or the temperature for that matter. I baked this fucker for a good hour and 20 minutes, which ended up drying it out. My current place has a very reliable oven, which is a fucking relief.

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I’m pretty obsessed with quick breads at the moment. They’re so easy and simple, and can be done a million different ways. Rhubarb is the best, but you won’t be getting my recipe for that anytime soon. ūüėČ

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You’ll notice my “swirl” is just a sad line. Turns out, no one cared about that either.

Cinnamon Bread

4 cups all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking sodaIMG_20190331_172426.jpg

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon cinnamon

2 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the swirl/topping:

1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for coating the pans

2 tablespoons cinnamon, plus extra for coating the pans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 loaf pans with butter, and coat with cinnamon sugar mixture. Once the pans are fully coated, dump out excess.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside. In another large bowl, combine buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and sugar. Mix well before whisking in eggs one at a time.

Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined. Always avoid over-mixing, as it develops the gluten in the flour and can make your cake dense and chewy. It took me years to learn this. Don’t be like me.

Combine cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl and set aside. Take half of the batter, and split it between both loaf pans. Add a layer of the cinnamon sugar mixture (reserving half), then top with remaining batter. Use a butter knife to swirl the cinnamon sugar mixture through the batter before topping with the remaining cinnamon sugar. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Allow to cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes. Run a butter knife along the edges to loosen, then turn it onto a cooling rack. Real talk, I only got a cooling rack in the last few months. Cooling on a counter top or large plate is fine, too. Don’t listen to the snobby bakers that tell you otherwise.

As with any quick bread, slice and cover with butter to serve. Gobble it all up.

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baking · brunch · comfort food · easy · eggs · mushrooms · Sauces · vegetarian · Yummy

Eggs and Morels in a Cream Sauce

Cooking regular meals is kind of on the back burner right now, because my farmer’s market booth opens in less than 2 weeks! That means I’m baking like a madwoman, and bringing cookies/cinnamon rolls with me everywhere I go, along with a trail of flour and sugar. Want to be a taste tester? Perfect. But you have to come to me, because I’m chained to my oven. I made 2 batches of cookies today, one of which was a double batch. Due to the nature of that type of cookie, even the double batch only made 15ish cookies. FML. How does one price out cookies that require this much butter? I’ll just have to explain, “I’m sorry, ma’am, but this cookie HAS to be $12, as there is a pound of butter included.” I’m sure they’ll understand.

The morels need to be soaked, dried, and chopped.

I have one weekend left to practice and do “research.” Research means checking out the other farmer’s markets to get ideas and tips based on their bakers’ displays. The whole thing is pretty confusing, but I’m pretty sure that I’ll be okay as long as I don’t poison anyone. And I’m definitely staying away from peanuts. There are too many fucking people that drop dead at the mere sight of a peanut. I can’t be worrying about that shit. No one’s gonna die on my watch.

My eggs stuck to the bottom despite buttering my pans.

I took a mini break from baking to make this egg recipe, as my friend has literally been raving about it for years. She is completely¬†obsessed with morel mushrooms. As you know, I’m obsessed with mushrooms in general (as proven here, and here, and, oh yeah, also here), but I’d never tried the illusive morel. Mostly because they’re only in season for 5 fucking minutes, and they’re expensive as fuck. Who pays $70/lb for a fucking mushroom? It’s madness. That being said, I did cave. No, I didn’t spend $70. But I did find them for $50/lb, and proceeded to purchase 0.31lbs. It was still more than I wanted to spend on a single grocery item, but fuck it. Luckily, it made me 1.5 recipes worth of what I lovingly refer to as “the mushroom thing.” T and I ate it for breakfast Sunday morning, and then split one for dinner that same night. Outside of a few snacks at my mom’s house, that was all I ate on Sunday. When you add the bread into it, that shit is fucking heavy. It looks like a relatively light meal, but don’t be fooled. Definitely serve one egg per person, unless you can handle tons of cream and bread.

I 100% feel like this could be made with any mushroom, and it would taste the same. I don’t get the superiority complex of morels. I mean, they’re fine. They taste like mushrooms, and mushrooms are delicious. They for sure don’t taste $70/lb good.

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Eggs and Morels in a Cream Sauce

1 cup morel (or whatever) mushrooms, roughly chopped

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 small shallot, diced

1 tablespoon butter, plus enough to grease the dishes

4 eggs

Chopped chives (as many as you want)

Salt and pepper

1 baguette (or any other good, crusty bread)IMG_20190609_091412.jpg

Preheat oven to 375. Dissolve about a teaspoon of salt in a large bowl of cool/room temp water. Add the morels, making sure they are fully covered, and allow to soak for 2-3 minutes. You can use your hands to move them around a little bit, as you want to make sure any and all dirt/bugs/etc are removed. These things are forged, not farmed. They could legit have bugs. Pay attention. After they’ve soaked for a few minutes, strain out the water and allow them to dry on a layer of towels/paper towels. I left mine for maybe 15-20 minutes. Chop your shallots and measure the ingredients while you wait.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add a tablespoon of butter. Coat the bottom of the pan. Once fully melted, add in the shallots. Cook the shallots for about 2 minutes before adding in the chopped morels. Saute until soft, and onions are translucent. Pour in the cream and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for one minute before removing from heat. Let everything sit for 5 minutes to thicken. While you’re waiting, crack your eggs into small baking dishes. The original recipe called for ramekins. I don’t own ramekins, so I used mini loaf pans. Use what you’ve got. No need to buy extra shit for one fucking recipe.

Once the cream is done resting, pour it over the eggs into the (greased) baking dishes, making sure to even out the quantity in each. Because I used mini loaf pans, I did two eggs in each one. This mostly worked out. I ended up having to bake them for a bit longer than the original recipe recommended, but it’s fine. Bake for 15 minutes. Top with chives. Serve with bread for dipping.

This would also be a bomb ass pasta sauce.

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What could be better than eggs, cream, and bread?

casserole · cats · dinner · easy · gluten free · healthy · quick · Rice · Vegetables · vegetarian · veggies · Yummy

Weeknight Veggie Rice Casserole and CATS

T and I have been getting settled into the new place. We’re finding our routines and learning how to live with another person. It’s a lot of compromising and communication, which neither of us are used to after living alone for the last few years (more for him). The cats are getting used to it, too. And by “getting used to it,” of course I actually mean that they are causing the loudest fucking ruckus every goddamn morning at 4am. T didn’t believe me that we should wait until 7am to feed them in the morning. He insists that we feed them right when we wake up at 6am. Well, I don’t know about other cats, but MY fucking asshole cats start screaming for food at least an hour and a half before it’s actually time to feed them. And they are happy to teach other cats all their asshole tricks, too. Bourdain usually starts it. He will zip around the apartment, often taking the time to dart across our sleeping bodies several times before knocking the books off the bookshelf in the living room. Then, when we finally get up to wrangle him, he shoots under a chair or behind a box, and starts biting if you reach for him. It’s fun. The only way to catch him is to bring out food, which only reinforces the behavior. So I end up throwing a small handful of dry food into the spare bedroom, and closing the door as he runs in after it. I’ll go back to bed, but now the rest of them are all riled up. Nevertheless, I crawl into bed and cover my head with a pillow, hoping for the best.

 

THEN. Motherfucking Harriet will start nibbling on the large Ikea plant in the living room. I don’t know why we even purchased the fucking thing. It didn’t work last time, and it’s not going to work this time. We are cat people, not plant people. Despite all of our efforts, Harriet fucking eats the leaves every godforsaken morning. And then she proceeds to barf them up on the one nice rug we have, not the wood floors. EVERY. FUCKING. MORNING. And if that isn’t enough, Cecil will attack her right after the barfing incident (which I have taken to ignoring), which causes screams so loud I have to believe the neighbors think we’re running some sort of weird cat fighting ring at 4:30am everyday. I end up having to put her in the bedroom with Bourdain to both protect the plants and for her own safety (we can’t trust Cecil when he’s hungry). Once she is contained, it gets better. But we still have to deal with Cecil jumping on us. In fact, he’ll often sit next to my head and just stare down at my face until I wake up. It’s creepy as fuck. The only quiet, well behaved one is Chuck. He’s such a good, fluffy boy.

Oh wait, that’s not accurate at all. Once the others stop with their shenanigans, Chuck will start yowling uncontrollably in the living room. We have a loft, so the master bedroom opens into the living room, which means he’s yowling LOUDLY right fucking next to us. It’s fucking horrific.

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Oh, and BTW, this all repeats itself at dinnertime, too. It literally just happened while I was writing this. It’s just less annoying at 6pm versus 4am. Ya know?

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Last weekend T and I decided to explore the neighborhood by bar hopping. I had my very first grape ape, and still made us a wholesome dinner. These were things I had on hand, so there was no shopping needed. It was quick and easy, and tasted great with an egg on it for breakfast, too.

Weeknight Veggie Rice Casserole

1.5 cups dry brown rice

3 cups vegetable broth

1/2 can (14oz) diced fire roasted tomatoes

1 can (14oz) chickpeas, drained

Zest and juice of one lemon

1 small onion, diced

3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/4 cup chopped parsley

4 cups chopped spinach or Swiss Chard

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large sauce pan, boil water. Once boiling, add in dry brown rice and simmer for 17 minutes. Drain and rinse. Set aside. Saute the greens with a little olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Once wilted, set aside. In a large skillet over medium high heat saute onion in olive oil until translucent (5ish minutes). Add in the minced garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes before adding in the rice. Mix well and let cook for another 2-3 minutes. Pour in broth, lemon zest and juice, and chickpeas. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir everything together well. Add in half of the feta and the cooked greens. Pour entire mixture into a large baking dish (9 x 13). Sprinkle with remaining feta and parsley. Bake for 20-25 minutes, then broil for 5 minutes.

Clockwise from the top: Chuck (obviously), Bourdain, Harriet, Cecil

baking · cake · comfort food · dessert · vegetarian · Yummy

Earl Grey Cake with Honey Buttercream

I haven’t moved in 7.5 years. Prior to my last apartment, I had moved every 6-18 months since turning 18 years old. But this last apartment stuck. I moved into it after spending 3 years in New York trying to “find myself,” lived there with my then fiance (my now ex-husband), started my blog there, watched my first cat suffer with cancer there, welcomed new cats into my life, reclaimed my identity after the divorce, fell into a yoga obsession, became a yoga teacher, started dating, suffered heartbreak, fell in love, welcomed a mischievous kitten into my life, and baked the whole way through it all in that tiny ass kitchen. That apartment felt like a part of my identity. It was my first true home as an adult. That being said, I was ready to move on from it. It was time. So we did it. T and I moved downtown, which is a fucking dream. I’ve always dreamed of living in the heart of the city, and now I finally have the chance.

The move itself was a goddamn nightmare, of course. I mean, it went as well as it could, but it’s a fucking huge pain in the ass to move 2 apartments in one morning. It didn’t help that we had both been at our old places for several years. Shit accumulated more than I’d realized. Fuck, we have a lot of shit. We both thought we’d have the place fully unpacked and set up within a week. We’re on day 10 and still semi living out of boxes. This adds to my stress level, which is already sky high with transitioning to a new job at work, getting all the paperwork and payment together for the farmer’s market, and being contacted by my biological dad’s sister on Ancestry. This literally all happened within the same week, which is why I couldn’t blog last week. This bitch needs some time to herself. Fuck.

I’ve literally been fantasizing about baking in the new kitchen. It’s not as tiny as the last kitchen, but it’s not gigantic. After 7+ years of cooking and baking in my old kitchen, I think I’ve earned the name Tiny Ass Kitchen regardless of where I live, but only time will tell if I decide on renaming things.

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During my last few weeks at the old place, I started a baking frenzy. I kept thinking it would be my last time baking in that kitchen. And I felt like making something fancy as fuck. Earl Grey is one of my favorite flavors. It’s really delicate, which is a sharp contrast to the dark chocolate I often prefer in my desserts. I’m not a huge fan of honey, but it works here. Lavender would also be a good addition, but plain old vanilla buttercream would also be lovely.

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I want to make this for Cortney and have it with tea and fancy dresses.

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Earl Grey Cake with Honey Buttercream (original recipe here)

For the cake

2 teaspoons loose leaf earl grey tea, separated (I used the bagged kind and just cut open the bags because I’m a lazy ass… if you are using true loose leaf tea, you’ll want to grind one of the teaspoons up a bit)

1 cup whole milk

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup vegetable oil (coconut oil also works well here, but you’ll want to melt it)

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

For the honey buttercream

1 pound unsalted butter, room temperature

1/3 cup honey

3 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the cake

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a saucepan over low heat add the milk and one teaspoon of loose leaf tea (not ground). Let simmer for five minutes to infuse the tea into the milk, but avoid letting it come to a full boil. Allow it to cool to room temp (feel free to set it in the fridge for a bit). Strain out the tea. Set aside. In a mixer, cream together butter and sugar before adding in the eggs one at a time. Continue mixing while adding the vanilla and oil and allow the batter to become light and fluffy. I never truly know how light and fluffy these things should be, but just use your best judgement. While it is mixing, in a separate bowl you’ll want to add in your flour, baking powder, salt, and finely ground tea (or a teaspoon from a tea bag because you’re a lazy ass like me – I promise it won’t matter). The original recipe says to sift the dry ingredients together. Fuck sifting. Just don’t pack any of these things into their measuring cup/spoon, and you’ll be fine. If you want to be super accurate, you’re on the wrong food blog. This isn’t the British Baking Show. Mix the dry ingredients together before gradually adding them to the mixer while it is set to low speed. Try not to overmix. Once everything is just combined, add in the infused milk. Distribute batter into 2 greased 8 or 9 inch round cake pans (it calls for 8″, but I only have 9″ – it’s fucking fine). Bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool for about 20 minutes before removing cakes from the pans onto a cooling rack. If you lose a chunk to the bottom of a stubborn pan, don’t panic. Take it as a sign from the snack gods that you deserve a treat! And fill the hole with frosting. Everyone wins.

Make sure the cakes are completely cool before frosting. I cut my layers in half to create 4 separate layers. It’s nice to have extra frosting in the middle, but it’s certainly not necessary.

For the honey buttercream

Add all buttercream ingredients to the mixer and whip until light and fluffy, about 5-10 minutes. Frost as desired! I kept my cake really minimal. It had a really thin layer of frosting, so you can see the cake through it in some spots. I also used some extra honey to drizzle along the edges. This is pretty initially, but doesn’t hold up well. If you want to do the honey drizzle, do it right before serving.

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cake · dessert · easy · Fruit · gluten free · jam · peanut butter · quick · vegetarian · Yummy

PB & J Mug Cake

I am having a lot of life changes lately. Lots of good things, but it’s A LOT. One of those exciting things is a booth at my local farmer’s market! I decided to inquire about selling baked goods at a tiny farmer’s market 2 blocks from my apartment. I didn’t want to start with one of the big ones, as that felt really fucking overwhelming. Plus, I wasn’t sure they’d accept me being so new to the scene. So I chose the perfect, supportive little church-run market. Of course, I didn’t know I’d choose one that was run by a church when I decided on the name of my booth. I purchased the name Eat Me Bakery, LLC in January thinking it was cheeky and fun (I mean, it is).

 

When I got a call back from the person in charge of the farmer’s market last week, he was extremely encouraging in almost every aspect. Once we were winding down the conversation, and it was looking promising that I was going to be accepted, he said he had to discuss something kind of uncomfortable. He prefaced by saying that he was not the only one with concerns, and proceeded to ask if my name was “set in stone.” I was hoping my name would slide by unnoticed, since it could also be considered an Alice in Wonderland reference, but I wasn’t fooling anyone. I’m also a terrible liar, so there was no way I was going to try to convince him that it was anything other than the crude phrase that it clearly was. So I’m looking for a new name! Something rated G, but nothing too sweet. And I’ll hold onto Eat Me Bakery, since it’s still a fucking great idea. It just needs a different venue, and that’s okay. The organizer of the farmer’s market was a great sport about the whole thing, assuring me that he understood the name was just meant to be playful, but that it also wasn’t appropriate for this setting. That’s completely fair.

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Something I’d like to sell at my booth is peanut butter and jelly sandwich cookies. I haven’t had time to play with the recipe yet, so I did something quick today with those same flavors.¬†Peanut butter and jelly is my favorite flavor combination. I am baffled by the lack of options outside of an elementary school cafeteria. I mean, why aren’t there cookies and donuts and muffins full of these flavors??? And they could be done in SO MANY DIFFERENT WAYS. The mind reels. So many missed opportunities. I was fucking psyched when I discovered this mug cake recipe on Food52’s website. I needed something simple and sweet today to counter all the salty as fuck meat my body has been craving for the last 24 hours. Yes, I gave into the meat for 2 meals. I’m mostly a vegetarian, but I do have my moments. Not that I need to justify myself to anyone, because I fucking don’t (I’m talking to you, Hannah). This little mug cake was the perfect fix. It’s gooey and rich, with light sweetness from the jelly. I used triple berry jam made locally, but any cheap grape jelly would work perfectly well. Pick your favorite flavor, and go nuts (ha!).

This cake is unintentionally gluten-free, too!

 

PB & J Mug Cake

4 tablespoons peanut butter

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1 egg

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

A pinch of salt

2 tablespoons jelly/jam (any flavor)

I used a small bowl to mix everything, so I had enough room to make sure all the ingredients were incorporated well. You could opt to mix everything in the mug/jar as well. Start by mixing everything except the jelly. Stir/whisk until smooth. Add a tablespoon of jelly and swirl into the batter (without fully incorporating). My jelly was actually jam, and quite thick. I ended up kind of cutting it into the batter, so little chunks of jam remained. That way you get little pockets of jam, which is fucking delightful. Pour everything into a mug or 1/2 pint mason jar. Add another tablespoon of jam on top, pressed lightly right into the top of the batter. Microwave for 50-60 seconds. Sift a little powdered sugar on top if you’re feelin’ fancy. Let cool for a couple of minutes. Then SHOVEL INTO YOUR FACE.

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Basics · comfort food · dip · easy · Party food · quick · snacks · vegetarian · veggies · Yummy

Lazy Spinach Dip

The first time I ever tasted this dip was when I lived in New York. My former college roommate (and very dear friend), Pam, made it for me. At the time I was completely incapable of cooking for myself. I can’t fucking stress that enough… I was literally eating bologna sandwiches, instant ramen, and easy mac (not even the boxed stuff) on the regular. I WAS BUYING CABBAGE THAT I THOUGHT WAS LETTUCE. THIS WAS MY REALITY.

It was a dark time.

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But then Pam made me some spinach dip over drinks at her place one night, and I was floored by how easy it was to make. I remember being fucking hammered one night (she didn’t drink much, so her boo and I would drink for her), and having the last mouth full of spinach dip STILL IN MY MOUTH when I realized there was another batch and I shouted, “OH MY GOD, THERE’S MORE!” It was the truest expression of pure joy.

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Not long after that night, I decided to have another friend over to watch the Oscars (this was the one and only time I pretended to care about that shit). Trying my very best to be a real adult, I prepared snacks. This spinach dip was the star, but I would like to note that I also served cheese and crackers like a seasoned hostess. It was still BYOB though, because this bitch isn’t made of money.

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Lazy Spinach Dip (found here or on the back of all Lipton’s Vegetable Recipe Mix packaging)

10 oz frozen spinach

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup sour cream

1 packet (1.4oz) Lipton’s vegetable recipe mix (previously known as Lipton’s Vegetable Soup Mix)

Fill a medium sauce pan with about 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Add in frozen spinach and simmer for a few minutes. Drain and squeeze out excess water. Mix spinach with all other ingredients. Chill in fridge for 2ish hours. Or just eat that shit right away because you’re fucking starving and this shit is delicious.

Serve with veggies or chips. I recently started making this dip again, and T is addicted. We serve it every time anyone comes over, and also sometimes just for us. Fuck sharing.IMG_20190203_124333.jpg

 

Basics · healthy · Rice · travel · vacation · vegetarian · Yummy

How to Make Brown Rice + Costa Rican Adventures

Okay, so here’s the thing. I flew in from Costa Rica this morning at 1am. It was 2 flights, a 4 hour layover, a confused and lost Lyft driver, and a 90 degree temperature difference. By the time I corrected my Lyft driver, picked up my car, made a tampon run, dropped off my bag, showered, and collapsed into bed at T’s, it was 3am. So forgive me for not having pictures of this week’s recipe. It’s really because I wasn’t planning on posting about rice this week. I was originally going to do spinach dip, but that will have to wait. Who the fuck cares about spinach dip when I’ve spent the last week eating the most delicious Costa Rican food? So I thought I’d help everyone out with the constant fucking struggle that is rice. The photos can inspire ways to serve your rice, but I will have no photos of the process, or even of rice I’ve cooked myself. I think you’ll all live.

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My friend, Liz, and I went to Costa Rica together for a week. I always forget that she doesn’t like swimming, especially in the ocean, which is literally my favorite thing. So imagine my surprise when she leaps at the chance to jump off the roof of our catamaran tour boat. The guides gave us 15 minutes of swim time before bringing us all to the shore of a secluded white sand beach (I know, right?!). I didn’t honestly think she’d want to swim at all, much less dive in from the roof. She doesn’t even like heights! As much as I love swimming and the ocean, I wasn’t even 100% sure I wanted to jump from the roof. I thought I’d climb down the ladder like a fucking wuss, dipping one chubby leg in at a time. But I can’t be the one to discourage her wave of bravery. Who am I to rain on her fucking parade? We were doing this. As we climbed to the roof of the rocking boat, I immediately tripped on the rope that had literally just been pointed out to me. Off to a good start. Just great. We made our way to the edge of the roof, got some reassurance from those that jumped before us, held hands, and leaped into the dark green water below. I landed ass first, obviously. I must have panicked mid-air, and decided to put my largest bit first. Makes sense, I guess.

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Snacks from our catamaran tour

We also spent our time eating gallo pinto and casados con pollo. Gallo pinto is a traditional breakfast dish made up of rice and beans mixed together with some spices and hot sauce (and cilantro, which is NOT food). We had ours with eggs and a side of fruit every morning. Luckily, I was never able to taste the cilantro in the gallo pinto.

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Gallo pinto with eggs

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The “weird” casados with an egg, ranch dressing, tortillas, AND mashed potatoes?

 

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A more traditional casados

Casados is a traditional plate of food, usually consisting of rice, beans, salad with “ugly lemon” squeezed over the top, fried plantains, and your choice of meat or fish. I took off my vegetarian label to experience the local cuisine, and opted to try pork once and fish many times. Each restaurant had a different form of casados, some of them even adding an egg on top (Liz was baffled). Within 3 days, I realized that I had made the grave mistake of not properly preparing my body for a sudden influx of beans. That, combined with a serious lack of water intake, caused bloating like I’d never experienced. All night long my stomach was making the saddest sounding whale noises, while my lower abdomen stuck out far enough to be a mid-term pregnancy. You’re welcome for that visual (and audio).

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Casados con chicharrones (fatty pork bits)

Brown Rice

1 cup dry, long grain brown rice

6(+/-) cups water, divided

1 teaspoon salt

Olive oil

In a medium sauce pan, bring 3-4 cups water to a boil. Add in the rice and let boil for 17 minutes. Drain and rinse well. Drizzle ~2 tablespoons of oil into a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat until the oil is relatively hot and has thoroughly coated the pan. Add in the rice and keep stirring as it sizzles. Allow it to fry slightly for 2-3 minutes as you continue to stir. Add in 3 cups of water and the salt. Stir everything well, making sure none of the rice is sticking to the bottom. Lower to a simmer and cover. Let simmer for 25 minutes. Make sure to stay close, though. You will likely need to add in some more water (probably about 1/2 cup). DO NOT STIR ONCE THE SIMMERING HAS STARTED. If you do, you’ll fuck it up. Don’t be a fuck up. Also, if you abandon your rice and start to smell it burning from another room – it’s too fucking late. That shit will be all fucked up. Trust me, I know. I’ve fucked up many a batches of rice.

Serve it with SO many things – tacos, burritos, meat/fish, eggs, roasted veggies.

Here are some of the critters we saw:

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