Monday, November 30, 2009

Oh my.

Can't pin down the chain-restaurant-food cravings you're enduring? Let this handy guide help you. A quick shout out to Brett http://www.lexjb.com/, from whom this was yanked.

http://eatingtheroad.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/where-to-eat-chain-restaurant3.jpg

Sunday, November 29, 2009

First World Problems.

1) Amtrack return ticket for the Sunday following the Thanksgiving weekend.
2) Unscrutinized ticket leads to *surprise* moment when realization of 5-hour layover is achieved.
3) Especially since Union Station is crawling with travelers. Lots of cranky travelers, quarantined like cattle, or refugees.
4) And the Amtrack lounges are off-limits unless you're five minutes prior to departure.
5) The station chairs are all full. So are the walls, and most of the floor.
6) Plus that forty pounds of baggage you're carrying around when you realize this.
7) Add on that you snacked and had coffee on the train, but by the time it arrives you're a) ravenous and b)under-caffeinated.
8) It's raining in Chicago.
9) You've arm warmers but no mittens, and your scarf evaporated the previous evening. Regrettably, no alcohol was involved.
10) You're nursing the tail end of a hangover, and just want somewhere warm, to eat, with the internet, for free. Happy to pay for the food/drink, it's just that the internet should be free.
11) You should be able to do e-mail on your handy new holiday present smart phone. But instead, after three hours spent in the Sprint Store yesterday, they still didn't fix your phone, which thinks it is corporate and has no interest in talking to GMail.
12) Every single nice-looking local-ish cafe is closed for the holiday weekend, or closed b/c it isn't M-F, 9-5.
13) The only food option looks like McDonald's or more McDonald's
14) The internet, or twitter, or facebook, of gmail could fix any of these first world problems.

BUT NO THE PHONE IT WILL NOT.

I am going to roast the balls of some Sprint employee's management team. RAAAAAR!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Un-Turkey Thanksgiving

Soy Chorizo and Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

Serves 2 as a main dish, or 4 as a side.

1 acorn squash, sliced in half, with seeds/innards scraped out.

Grease liberally with olive oil, place cut down on an aluminum-lined baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes, or until fork-tender. Once cool, carefully scoop out 75% of the squash flesh and set aside. Make sure to leave the shell intact.

While the squash is baking, cook 1 c white or brown rice.

I used a rice cooker, and needed 2 c water. On the stove-top, ratios may differ. I actually make poor rice on the stove top, so I shall graciously confess my use of tools, and let other, wiser, folk on the internet direct the cooking-of-rice-in-pots-on-stoves.

Chop into a small dice two large (or four small) shallots.
Mince 4-6 cloves garlic (or to taste).

Saute the shallots in olive oil over medium-low heat until translucent. Add the garlic, saute 1-2 minutes more, until garlic softens but does not brown.

Add 1-2 teaspoons of cumin and a 1/2 teaspoon of dried pepper flakes.

Stir another thirty seconds or so. Add in the squash innards, mixing, then once combined, stir in half of the rice (About a cup, there will be rice to spare. I just find it ridiculous to make a 1/2 c of dry rice, since there are so many uses for leftover rice.)

Once the squash and rice are well combined, add about 4 inches of soy chorizo crumbles. Stir to combine. It comes in a casing, so it's easier to approximate four inches than it sounds. Add more or less to taste -- I didn't want the flavor of the chorizo to dominate the delicious squash, I just wanted to compliment it.

Pack this mixture back into the squash shells and level them off. Carefully wrap the squash shells in aluminum foil as if they were baked potatoes. Pop them in the oven, either on low (200 degrees) until it's time to serve the rest of dinner, or 350 for about 10-15 minutes to warm them completely and combine the flavors. The foil wrapper will keep them from drying out and trap delicious flavor inside.

Some bread crumbs or cheese crumbles would be a nice finishing topping -- I was trying to keep this dish vegan though, so I skipped the cheese. If a brown crusty topping is desired, remove the foil for the last five minutes of bake-time to let the cheese or bread crumbs brown.

This is a top-secretly hearty dish. Since it was one of many items for Un-Turkey Thanksgiving, we were both barely able to eat a third of a half of a squash. Bon Appetit!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Curried Squash for B3R

Curried Squash

2 butternut or acorn squash
1/2 small tin curry paste
1 can coconut milk
1 can crushed tomatoes in tomatoe puree
2 inches fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 onions, coarse chop

1)Halve the squash, scoop out the seeds. Rub with olive oil, then place cut side down on a tin-foil covered baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until fork-tender. Depending on the size and thickness of the squash, the amount of roasting required may vary.

2)While the squash is roasting, do the following: peel and chop the three onions, finely chop the six cloves of garlic, and peel and grate the fresh ginger.

3)When the roasted squash is cool enough to handle, peel and chunk up the squash. It’s a-okay if the squash is super soft and falling apart – that only means it will be more delicious.

4)Saute the onions in olive oil over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and saute 1-2 minutes more. Add curry paste to taste, starting with at least 2 tablespoons. I used a combination of massaman curry paste and sour yellow curry paste, though for squash I prefer the massamn curry flavor. Cook the mixture, stirring, to release the curry flavors for another 2-3 minutes. Add the coconut milk and the tomatoes.

5)At this point there are several possible steps. If you have a large enough stove-top pan, you can combine the curry sauce and the squash and cook on low for at least 30 minutes, occasionally stirring. If you prefer, combine the squash and sauce and put it into a crockpot to slow cook. The third option (and the one I used, as I don’t currently have a giant stove-top kettle) is to bake it again. Press the squash into a 9x13 pan, 2 inches deep, as though it were a crust or a dough. Pour the curry sauce over the top, cover with foil, and bake at 275 for 45 minutes, stirring to combine the curry sauce/squash at the half-way point. This only tastes better the longer it cooks, so I dropped the temperature further, down to 225, and cooked my pans o’ squash for another 45 minutes before loading up to go to site dinner.

The ratios of curry/tomato/coconut milk can be adjusted to suit personal preference. This is a down-sized recipe. For comparison, I used closer to 10 squashes, and four cans of coconut milk. The large, forty-servings version filled a 2-inch steam pan upon completion.