Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tuscan Kale

I don't like picking favorite foods because it isn't fair to name one dish my favorite and ignore the others. For that reason, I won't say that kale is my favorite vegetable, I'll just say that kale is the vegetable that I will miss the most when I leave home. My mama's kale is awesome. Sometimes we have kale in soup or with dried fruit, but my favorite is Tuscan kale cooked with tomatoes and onions. 

How to prepare your kale to be cooked: 
(Note: I like Tuscan kale, the long straight kind, not the crazy curly kind.) 

1. Wash the kale, being careful because if it comes from the farmer's market, there's probably lots of bugs and dirt.

2. Cut the bottom off of each piece of kale. If the center vein seems thick and tough, cut out the bottom part of it like this.

3. Stack the kale in a neat pile, all facing the same way.

4. Roll the pile into a burrito.

5. Slice your burrito into disks. You've created thin, noodle-like strips of kale which are ready to be cooked!

Tuscan Kale with Tomatoes

1 bunch kale, prepared as shown above
a few small cloves of garlic
1/2 an onion, diced
1/2 a can of diced tomatoes, or fresh tomatoes

Put half an inch of water on to boil and steam your kale until it is almost fully cooked. That should take 3-5 minutes, but just taste it to be sure.
While the kale is steaming, put some olive oil in your pan. When it's hot, add the garlic (if you're using it) and onion. When it's getting translucent, add the tomatoes. When the kale is mostly cooked, add it and cook until it is tender. Salt and pepper to taste. 

And remember that kale shrinks when it cooks, so even though your bunch of kale seems large, it won't make much cooked vegetables.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Really Pretty Pea Pesto Pasta

The last recipe I made from my favorite cooking blog was bland, gummy, and a waste of beautiful berries, but I didn't want to give up on Deb. Maybe she gave me one bad recipe, but everyone makes mistakes. I tried out her latest recipe yesterday, with some changes. The nuts and garlic were kicked up to increase the flavor and we tossed in some fresh basil, too. It was deliciously green. Though this pesto pasta tastes like spring, it uses frozen peas, so you can make it at any time of the year. 

Really Pretty Pea Pesto Pasta
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
(this RPPP isn't the Rosenthal Prestate Policy Preparation Party, but it's just as good)

1 1/2 to 2 cups frozen peas
1 big handful basil
2 cloves of garlic
1 cup ish walnuts
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
salt, pepper
olive oil
pasta of any shape

Toast your walnuts while you lightly boil your peas for two minutes or so. Stop the peas cooking in an ice bath, then drain them. Add about one cup of peas to your food processor along with your basil, parmesan, and garlic. Add in one handful of toasted walnuts. Blend it up with some olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. 

Save out some pasta water when you cook the pasta. When the pasta is done, stir in some pesto and your reserved peas, adding pasta water as necessary to make it mix well. Serve with extra toasted walnuts on top. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Note to self: never write on my blog that I'm going to have a fabulous next post. I jinxed the recipe before it was done cooking. I wouldn't be confessing about my strawberry failure here if I hadn't gotten so excited, but now I have to post something or other, and it sure isn't going to be the recipe.

Why did I use up all of our beautiful little farmer's market berries? Why wasn't I content with sliced strawberries with sugar? How could Deb have led me astray?

Rest in peace, you beautiful child of Mother Nature.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Everything's Bigger In Texas

My trip to Dallas has come and gone without me achieving my main goal: gaining enough weight to eat for free at the Heart Attack Grill. Alas, I will have to be content with my modest achievements at the NFL's National Debate Tournament like a shiny shiny semi-finalist medal for Congressional Debate. 

But we all know Nationals isn't about the debate rounds. It's about bonding with your debate team, meeting hundreds of nerdy debaters (who you then friend on facebook), and exploring a new city. We did plenty of exploring in Dallas, despite the unbearable heat. One night, as we wandered the West End in search of food, we landed at the Spaghetti Warehouse. Maybe the pasta was phenomenal, maybe I was just starving. Either way, more memorable than the food was the coke. First of all, in Texas, sometimes the coke is made with sugar instead of the corn syrup we're used to, which is very cool. But back to my anecdote. 

Our waiter was a friendly guy named Deryck. His parents made up for misspelling his name by giving him superhuman intelligence. He didn't write anything down yet kept all of our drinks, meals, and checks straight. I was extremely impressed before he had even brought the first refill of coke. Matt Campbell, one half of our policy team, was the lucky recipient of the first refill. He thought Deryck was joking when Deryck handed over a pitcher with a little black straw in it. "Everything's bigger in Texas!" we joked, and we all got out our cameras to take a picture. 

While Matt got to work on the pitcher, Deryck noticed that Allen's glass was getting empty. He returned with a big salad bowl that he filled with coke and ice. Whoa. Deryck was getting serious. 

We all got out our cameras for the second time and stuck our straws in the bowl to help Allen out.

As Deryck monitored our progress, the level of coke in Matt's pitcher didn't slip his attention.  He soon returned with a refill. 

Yes, that's a giant metal bucket. Yes, that's a giant pixie stick emptied of its contents serving as a straw. Yes, that's the third time I got out my camera in one meal to take a picture of a beverage.

How come I have significantly more pictures of boys drinking coke than I do of people dressed to debate? There's one of life's unanswerable questions for you. All I can say is thank you, Deryck, wherever you are. You changed the lives of one handful of debaters that night in Dallas and we will not forget you. 

Oh, and the strawberry-scented air surrounding me is reminding me to tell you to get ready for my next post.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Flying solo.

I should be on a plane right now. I should be halfway from IND to DFW.

At least I have my futo maki to comfort me.

At 6:12am, I woke sharply from a blissfully deep sleep to my obnoxious cell phone alarm. I hurried to shower, get dressed, and pack my final things for my week in Dallas for nationals. I finished the end of a loaf of bread with some thickly sliced French toast. The house urged me to stay with its scents of vanilla, cinnamon, and maple syrup, but I rushed through the dishes. As I tidied the kitchen, I grabbed my phone from the counter, where it was tethered to the wall with its charger. I noticed a voice mail. The missed call was from my debate coach. Uh oh. His voice was tired and disappointed on the message. Our flight had been cancelled and we were now leaving almost six hours later. West Lafayette's eight qualifying debaters spent the day in our eight respective houses, just sitting around waiting for the time to pass. Whatever preparation that would be done was done, and now we just wanted to leave already.

I had finished the last of the food in the house, so I ordered Maru sushi. Sushi for one at the dining table at home is my ideal lunch.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

It's a helluva town.

And it's going to be my town. On my vacation to NYC this past week, it was so hard to believe that I'm going to call Manhattan home. 
Out to dinner with my aunt Ruthie. The outside is a crispy taro shell that held shrimp, chicken, and vegetables.

Jenny's canoli in little Italy. 
 Grace's milkshake at Big Daddy's.
 Mel's hot dogs and tater tots at Big Daddy's.
 Look! A vegetable! My turkey burger was delicious.
 Soft serve at Coney Island.
 Pizza at Pizza Plus before Anything Goes.
 Mmm feta and sausage.
A float from Five Napkin Burger that they called the Dark and Stormy. This definitely wins the prize for must make at home. It was just rum raisin ice cream and ginger beer, but it turns my favorite classic root beer float into something creative and original.

Oh, and I'm going away for a week to Texas for Nationals in debate, but after that, I should be back around here, hopefully posting frequently.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Aftermath

And just like that, high school was over.

In eighteen days, I'll be eighteen. I'm not a kid anymore.

(at least it was a delicious cake)