Tidbits


Some days you just have a bunch of random stuff to put out there.  This is one of those days.

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I have a real corporate-like-Dilbert job now.  I have never worked for a big corporation before.  It has it's benefits and drawbacks.  I am not sure how I feel about it yet

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Every week we have "casual Friday" at work.  Last Friday, while standing in my closet and staring blankly at my work clothes,  I got a little too excited when I realized it was causal Friday and I could wear jeans.  I know sometimes life is all about the "little things,"  but I think I need a little more excitement in my life if causal Friday is a highlight of the day.

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Over the holidays I wrote a rant about some rather rude travelers and put it out there that this behavior needed to stop.  I recently just got back from some cross-country travel with the airlines, and while it was not as bad as over the holidays I see that some very special members of the public at large are refusing to change.  So allow me to get back on my soap box and repeat myself:

For one, PLEASE get up out of your seat when the person next to you needs to get up.  Making me crawl over you is awkward for both of us.  And no, picking your feet up and putting them on your seat DOES NOT HELP.

Also, I just want to let you know that I am probably going to be taken down by the secret airplane marshal guy the next time I see someone CLIPPING their FINGERNAILS on a plane or other public place (except then it would be me getting taken down by the police).  Seriously, I cannot sit by idly and let this happen.  I will be forced to attack if this behavior continues.  There aren't many things in this world that gross me out.  So, kudos for finding one.  Now, please stop.

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Despite our best efforts, I have recently come to terms with the fact that my dog is a menace to society.  I still love him to pieces.

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Planning a wedding is even less fun than you would think.  I understand the draw to eloping now. Just imagine  a few people on a beach...no wait...scratch that.  Mr. Man would die from sun exposure.  Make that just a few people under a veranda overlooking some majestic view.  Or maybe on the pirate ship in Vegas.I totally get it.  In the end all the planning will be worth it I am sure....(repeat until it is true). 

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We just booked our honeymoon to Italy using miles.  Soooo excited about the trip.  Two weeks of eating and drinking our way through Italy sounds like the perfect way to start a marriage. 

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Spring time in California kicks the ass of spring time in the Pacific Northwest.  And yes, I am gloating.  And yes, its STILL better even though we had a record breaking 21 days of rain here in March.

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Springtime veggies, like asparagus, popping up in the farmers market are one of the little things that ARE totally worth getting excited about.  Finding some yummy little ones yesterday at the lunch time farmers market was the highlight of my day.

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Ummmmm...this is embarrassing because I don't have any kids to blame it on...but I have pink eye.  WTF?

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Thanks for listening!  Feel free to vent, tell me about acceptable and not acceptable highlights of your day, the weather, and anything else on your mind.  It's not a conversation without ya!  (Plus, without you it's just me talking to myself and that is weird :) )

Getting culinary jealousy -or- Dinner party part 2, Creamy grits with crispy mushrooms and kale

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Sometimes it can be a little sad out here in the culinary world if you are a vegetarian.  Sometimes a new craze is sweeping all the food magazines, blogs, and restaurants and there is just no way to participate if you are a vegetarian.  For instance all things pig are way in right now.  I think it may be on it's last leg with its time in the spotlight, but it's still in the forefront.

Other times, it's an ingredient, spice, or style of cooking that I can participate in, even if I have to adjust it somewhat.  One such dish is shrimp and grits.  I think that the southern influence on cooking is starting to pop up here and there, especially in some fancier restaurants. Southern cooking in general is hard for a vegetarian.

I see shrimp 'n grits on the menu in lots of places and I want to order it, but you know, minus the shrimp, and then it just doesn't seem worth it.  I like grits for just about any meal aside from breakfast, and I have been wanting to try out a hearty, vegetarian version of these grits for sometime now.

I hardly ever toot my horn around here, but these grits were GD good.  The girls had two more courses to get through in the dinner and they still went back for seconds.  If that isn't the best compliment a dish can get than I don't know what is.

The combination of the creamy grits, sauteed mushrooms, topped with crispy kale chips (partly inspired by my ingrained sense that there must be something green in every meal - thank you mamacita) - all sitting in a little bit of broth are just what I needed to get over my grit craze jealously.  


Creamy Grits with Crispy Mushrooms and Kale in a Veggie Broth
makes 6 servings
I used a fancy mushroom for my dinner party.  For this dish I think it is better to buy a smaller amount of a more flavorful mushroom than use more of regular button mushrooms.  But, using button mushrooms would taste good too. I also call for white pepper here (my new fav obsession) since it matches the grits, but the black pepper pretty much tastes the same.  

For the grits:
4 cups milk (any percent or non-fat is fine)
1 cup quick-cooking grits
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/8-1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4-1/2-tsp. tarragon
salt to taste
6 oz. cream or mascarpone cheese

For the Kale:
1 large bunch kale, cut into chip size pieces, large stems removed
1 Tbs. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

For the mushrooms:
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 LARGE handfuls oyster (or any other kind of mushrooms), cut into large pieces
1 large shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced

Go ahead and chop the kale, mushrooms, shallot, and garlic...this will make this dish come together much easier.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. 

Mix the kale, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl until coated.  Place the kale in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Once the oven reaches 300 degrees bake the kale for approximately 20 minutes or until they are crispy.  Remove and set aside.

While the kale is baking, start to make the rest of the meal.  First heat up your broth.  Once it is warm keep it on a low heat to keep it warm.

For the mushrooms heat up 1 Tbs. olive oil over medium high heat in a saute pan.  Once it is hot put the shallots in and cook for a minute or two, then add the mushrooms.  Stir the mushrooms every minute or two until they start to brown and then add the garlic.  Cook until everything is a golden brown and then cover and remove from the heat (or turn the heat down to low when they are almost done to keep them warm until the grits are ready). 

Then put the milk and spices for the grits into a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Sir it constantly to prevent it from burning.  When the milk is just about to reach a simmer add the grits and stir until the grits are cooked, about five minutes.  Add the cheese and turn off the heat.  Stir until the cheese has melted and is well mixed in.

To serve put a ladle or two of grits into a bowl.  Then add a ladle of broth.  Next top with the mushrooms and then the kale (avoid getting the kale in the broth to keep them crispy as long as possible.




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