Easy Egg Drop - involve the kids!

There aren't pictures of this soup today because I wasn't able to take any - you ever try cooking with pre-schoolers? Trust me, you need more than one person or only one kid if you expect to get pictures of just about anything. Plus, scalding kids with hot soup doesn't go down all that well, even in Monressori enviroments. And as a former educator (hard to believe at twenty-four you are a 'former' anything...), I ought to know.

One of the mothers in my primary class gave me this recipe. It's a very simple, very cheap Chinese egg drop soup that takes practically no time to make. I like to whip it up when I want just a little something warm or if I feel like my pot stickers don't need a full-fledged stir-fry to make it a meal (or when i don't just feast on potstickers, fighting people for my share). Earlier today, I heated up leftover soup and just ate it with some delicious toast.

God, I love toast. I could just write a whole entry about toast. But this is soup time! So. Focus. Soup.

It is, in fact, so simple that if you want to let your kids help you out - you can! You'll want to be keeping a close eye, but kids like helping out. I mean, I don't have any, but I arguably once had upwards of twenty...so...just saying. Here is what you need:

- green onion (or onion. whatever. green onion is the best though and, when i'm onionless, i just shrug and don't bother. god i love this soup, it is so forgiving of poverty), sliced fine
- chicken stock (veg would be fine too)
- sesame oil
- egg(s), lightly beaten
- slivered garlic, though feel free to add whatever veg you like or even omit the garlic. Although why anyone would ever omit garlic from anything is beyond me...

So. You have your chicken stock all nicely hot and boiling, add the garlic or any veg that needs cooked. Salt, pepper, and just a little bit of sesame oil. About a teaspoon or so per cup of broth, depending on how much you love sesame. Slowly pour the egg into the soup, stiring quickly if you want shredded egg, slowly if you don't. Taste and season as you need, then sprinkle some green onion in and enjoy.

Clearly, the favorite thing the kids like to do is stir the egg. It's pretty exciting for them.

I have made this soup so many times that it is by now second nature. And while there are probably loads of other ways to do it, this is what I do.


Cricket, cricket.

Well, it certainly hasn't been much a cacophony here, has it? Makes me feel a bit foolish for the name. I have several half-written recipes for posting, a few pictures I ought to throw up of a (pretty damn tasty) stir-fry, and just that sort of thing. I haven't died or anything like that, I've just suddenly been over-run by my actual life and, while I have been doing a lot of cooking with my roommate, I haven't been paying much attention or photographing it.

Which is awful, considering that I made this potato dish earlier in the week and nearly died it was so delicious. Going to have to try that again, this time while taking note of what I am doing. Note and photo.

That said, I do have things to post and things I still want to cook and a rant about Top Chef that undoubtedly needs ranting. I just also have to go to the store and do some laundry and clean my apartment and figure out what I'm eating for Christmas and sleep. Clearly, sleep. And I can probably do a lot of that today since Chicago came through with the fantastic winter storm, if the sound against my window and everything is any indicator, and work told me not to come in.

I am going to try and do much better about making this a cacophony.


No, really. Just bear with me. Things are a-coming.


Top Chef

I don't know about the rest of you, but this season of Top Chef has been pretty disappointing so far. I can't generally remember the very first ones of any given season, so maybe this is typical and I'm really hoping that everyone steps it up. Even with the good moments and the general fun and everything, these contestants are not winning me over.

I do like a few of these guys though. Jamie, for one, as her tattoos and being the sole remaining member of Team Rainbow tend to soften me up. She seems pretty talented and I'm holding out hope that she does well. Carla is mostly just funny, so I like her for her personality more than her cooking at the moment. I think this is mainly because I can not recall anything she's actually done.

I feel obligated to like Radhika because she's from Chicago. Mostly though, she hasn't really wowed me and she keeps falling a little flat with just her personality. Still, the idea that I could pop down to Wicker Park and see what her food is actually like is pretty awesome. I hear there are flower petals on everything. Hm.

I was impressed by Gene building his own cooking apparatus for the Thanksgiving challenge and have been slowly finding Fabio to be more endearing than I would have suspected.

That said, I find Danny to be obnoxious and Ariane keeps annoying me. Padma spit out her food, come on! Though, I mean, she did well last episode, so I guess we will just have to wait and see if she can stick to it. Just so many of the girls this season are lacking in personality - they don't seem to be vivid or passionate. And still, I look forward to Wednesday.

Top Chef Wedneday, where we cook food (once it was just break-n-bake cookies. ha ha ha. blasphemy.) and judge away.


Bacon and Potato Soup

I don't cook much bacon, even though I think it is delicious. Crispy, delicious bacon. It goes so well with sandwiches, with stuffing, with peanut butter. I am totally willing to admit that I have before purchased that microwavable bacon because it is easy and fast and crispy without any effort on my part.

Not that the problem with cooking bacon is the effort. Rather, anything with lots of grease makes me a touch nervous. Still,
when my roommate and I decided we wanted potato soup the other night, I knew that bacon would be a delicious addition.

So I sucked it up. I bought some bacon (and, man, let me tell you how hard it is to find bacon without any corn products in it...frustrating...) and set to it. I can't even remember the last time I tried to cook bacon, so, I've gotta confess that I was pretty pleased about the ease of frying. I broke the strips in half to make it more manageable
and kept the heat no higher than medium. Which leads me to say - cook bacon! Not as bad as you think!

But back to the tasty soup. Once you get your crispy, non-burned, delicious bacon - you can worry about the rest of the soup. Which is to say - the hard part is already over because this is one of the easiest things I've cooked in a while.


- bacon (about six pieces, cooked, crumbled)
- two baking potatoes (chopped roughly)
- one smallish leek (sliced and chopped)
- four garlic cloves (slivered, though two of them were diced)

- chicken broth (about a cup, maybe more, i used a large mug from starbucks)
- half and half
- sour cream (a few spoons)
- seasoning (salt, pepper, dash cayenne, and dill)
- carrots (three small and sliced and chopped)
- celery (two stalks, chopped)

- one/two tablespoons of flour

(i also used a splash of red wine, maybe a few tablespoons)

So you have your bacon already cooked. I used the grease from cooking and a bit of butter in a soup pot. I added the leek and garlic and sauteed for a moment and then added the carrot and celery and a little red wine. Once the carrots were slightly tender, I added the potato, some of the bacon, and broth - peppered, salted, and left it there for the potatoes to get tender.

Once everything was finished I then poured in the half and half, sour cream, and seasoned with more salt and pepper, dash of cayenne, and dill. I slowly sprinkled flour in and mixed thoroughly, until the soup was thick enough for my liking.

To serve, I sprinkled crumbled bacon on top, handed my roommate a delicious crusty french roll, and ignored the snow outside. It was crazy delicious, very thick, and just - nom nom nom.


The Old Soup (in a manner of speaking)

My roommate and I have already decided that there will be many, many soups made in this apartment. I am planning on mushroom soup and potato soup and, well, lots of soups. But before I can move on to all the new soups, I feel I should remember the old soup.

It isn't fancy, the old soup. It isn't even that old, unless you consider two months to be old and, in fact, think of it as young soup. Still, this soup isn't fancy either way you look at it. It is cheap and easy (floozy soup, you might say, and I am sure that someday I will) but quite tasty. And as a bonus - measurements for things aren't even important because you - and you alone - know how much soup you want!

Unless you are like me and often realize later that you wanted more soup. A problem, but not a horrible problem.

So! For this soup you need!

- chicken (or veg) broth - mine is bouillon cubes that I just make according to the direction.
- chicken breast (poached and made into deliciously tender chunks)
- frozen peas
- mushrooms (sliced)
- garlic (several cloves, poached, and mashed)
- onion (diced)
- carrots (sliced into coins)
- water chestnuts (if you want some crunch)
- other veg that you would like to add. potatoes might be good, celery, you know. whatever.
- butter-and-flour mixed into a paste (roux!) (it doesn't take much, maybe a tablespoon or two)
- salt, pepper, the rest of it.

Now. You have the broth all delicious looking in your pot. Add the veg and chicken and garlic and keep on a-cooking until it the veg is no longer raw, but tender. The water chestnuts, if you are using them, stay crisp and crunchy (but i mean you know that). Season until you are pleased. I like a little kick, so I use cayenne pepper, but I am sort of in love with basil and like to use that as well. Mix in the butter-and-flour mixture and stir until it is dissolved into the soup, which should thicken.

Of course, it might also thicken while leaving lumps. I'm still working on this. I've gotten it right a fair few times, but wrong a couple as well. At any rate, the soup is delicious. Very easy! But still delicious.


Caramelized Butter and Sugar Tarts

Thanksgiving has come and gone, leaving me full of stuffing (bacon/biscuit/mushroom, omg, nom nom nom) and turkey and other deliciousness. I didn't have to cook much (indeed, at all) but I contributed these caramelized sugar/butter tarts to the feast because if there is one thing I have to do for any event, it is make dessert. Typically, my offering is some sort of makes-you-be-my-slave-for-life cupcake, but this year I went a totally different route.

Maybe because I had these adorable little mini tart pans and had never used them. Maybe because the night before, my roommate and I had made pumpkin chocolate muffins. Or, far more likely, maybe because I am broke right now and had these ingredients in my apartment.

The crust was my own shortbread-styled crust.

Sugar, flour, salt, and butter mixed until crumble-y and tasty and then pressed into the pans and cooked briefly in the oven. I am not sure if I would do this next time or if I would do it longer, but either way - this is what I did. I also had to smack my friend and his grabby hands away from the crust as he wouldn't stop eating it. To be fair, he rarely comes over when I am cooking and so is often re-surprised by how tasty everything is. Also, he said it was the best crust he'd ever had.

I let him eat the remainder. I like to fatten up all my friends.

Further proof of this is the rest of the tart, which I from this recipe. The original is behind the link, but my version is as follows....

- 1/3 cup butter
- 1/4 cup sugar (approx)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar (approx)
- 1/2 cup sugar-syrup (cooked sugar and water down to a syrup over the stove)
- one lightly beaten egg
- a little salt
- about a teaspoon of vanilla
I mixed all these together, tasted to make sure it was indeed pure sugar, and then poured this into the tart tins and baked at 350 for about twenty minutes. I then carefully removed and placed on a dishcloth in my fridge to chill them. I also scraped a lot of molten sugar off of the cookie sheet I had placed the tins on because I had filled the tins too high and attempted to destroy the kitchen.

I also whisked some heavy whipping cream into whipped cream. It wasn't sweetened, so it provided a nice change from the sugar I was serving for dessert.
And, really, I am pretty happy with what I got. A very sweet, very gooey, very absurdly delicious tart that has received excellent reviews from all who got to eat any of them.


French-Toasted Sandwiches

It's called The General Foods Kitchens Cookbook and my copy is a first edition from 1959, which means that it is full of tips on juggling a job, the market, and having dinner on the table for my family. It offers me solutions for nearly any occasion that could arise in your standard 50's-era family - any day of the week, most any time of day. It's one of my favorite cookbooks for general cooking, as much entertainment as information and my copy is a little battered, but in otherwise fantastic condition.

This leads us to one of the projects I would like to undertake here at kitchenry. I want to make at least one of these recipes a week, from all different sections, including things that are new or not in my normal circles. Thus: Fifties House Wife Fun! Because sometimes I like to th
ink that I'd have been a great housewife, basking in the glow of my kitchen and meals, flirting with the neighbor's wife over the azaleas. I'd have an apron.

I would be adorable in that apron.

Now, the cookbook assures me that this sandwich is perfect for lunches and suppers and is still hearty enough for Dad! (really. this is what is says.) The original recipe has it as a chicken salad sandwich, though it also offers variations for tuna fish and ham & cheese. Now, I love chicken salad and, in general, chicken. I also enjoy a good tuna fish from time to time. But these were not things that I had in my kitchen and, anyway, I was hungry.

A few substitutions later and voila! I, too, can enjoy french toasted sandwiches.

French-Toasted Turkey-and-Cheese Sandwiches

- a few thinly sliced onion slices
- thinly sliced cheese - I used both pepper jack and some mozzarella
- turkey slices (oh, lunch meat. nom.)
- mayo
- bread

- butter
- a beaten egg

- a few tablespoons milk
- dash of salt
- sprinkle of sugar

- dash of seasonings (mine were a little cayenne and a hint of dill)

For the sandwich, spread your mayo on the bread and layer the onion, cheese, and turkey as you like. If you want to add other things, I suggest that you go for it.

Mix the egg, sugar, milk, salt, and seasoning together in a dish.

You don't want to put that lotion in there. Just saying.

Dip each sandwich unto the egg mixture, coating each side completely. Saute the sandwich in the butter until the sandwich is heated and both sides are brown.

Soaking up the goodness.

It suggests that your serve the original chicken version with cranberry sauce or pickled watermelon. It also suggests the ham version would go well with soup. I served mine with sesame chips, which I am addicted to.

I found this sandwich to be quite delicious and look forward to trying the chicken variation, which is...

- one cup finely chopped, cooked chicken (or a tin of chicken)
- 1/2 cup minced celery
- 1/3 cup chopped sweet pickle (though, really, not the biggest pickle fan...)
- salt, pepper
- 1/4 cup mayo

Combine and mix well, seasoning to taste.

Honestly, for my first real trip into turning this cookbook into something other than reading, I would say this is wildly successful. Nom, nom, nom.



The state tree of Ohio, the mascot of Ohio State University, and an utterly delicious (though quite sweet) peanut butter and chocolate dessert-treat.

"Oh, it's like a Reece's Cup," is the inevitable response by the unknowing masses and it takes actual restraint to not shriek in horror - as it is, I still flinch. Because while, yes, the two main ingredients are the same - a buckeye is not at all like a peanut butter cup.

Well, okay, there are similarities. But as anyone from Ohio can tell you, they are not the same. And I spent a summer making them by the dozen to introduce this delicious treat to my friends and co-workers. The picture is the only photo I have from my frantic, extended buckeye sessions.

Now, these are the best buckeyes I have ever had and not just because they are a recipe adapted from one my mother gave me (and no idea where hers came from).

Beth's Delicious Buckeyes

- one cup creamy peanut butter
- six tablespoons softened butter
- two - three cups of powdered sugar
- three tablespoons of cooled coffee
- dipping chocolate

Stir the butter and peanut butter together until well blended, then gradually add powdered sugar. Mix well, until the mixture can hold a ball. Add coffee, mix until creamy (bit still holds a ball shape when rolled in between your palms).
Clearly, now you roll the mixture into balls - about the size of a malted milk ball, though really it is entirely up to you. Place on waxed paper (or foil), then chill in the fridge.

Use a toothpick to dip the chilled peanut butter balls into the melted chocolate, you should leave a small circle at the top undipped, much as in the buckeye nut. Place in fridge for about fifteen minutes and, once the chocolate is hardened, put yourself in a wonderful sugar coma.

* Depending on how creamy you actually like the mixture to be, decrease the amount of powdered sugar. You could also add a flavoring, if you wanted, to the mixture or infuse the chocolate if you wanted to try something new(er).

My First Wok, My Latest Stir-fry.

The wok you see in the picture is the first wok I ever purchased. I was a junior in college and had my very own studio apartment, complete with a separate, real-sized kitchen. The majority of my kitchen supplies came from a previous roommate (he had far too many pots and pans, thus I got the battered ones) and a run to Ikea for things like knives and silverware and dishes. It wasn't until several months later that I decided I wanted a wok and I bundled myself up and went down the street to the local Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Once there, I agonized over which one I wanted, did I want a steamer, was a bamboo spatula really a good idea, did I plan on frying things... My first real kitchen purchase, not done because I needed the item, persay, but because I wanted it.

I made a selection. Sort of a My First Wok kit, but I think I actually giggled when I paid for it and hustled it back to my studio.

I loved that wok.

I didn't just stir-fry my food with it. I used it as if all the skillets and pots I had previous used had suddenly vanished, as if I didn't have a perfectly good microwave - I'd reheat my leftover Thai food, I made soup, and I vividly remember using my new wok to make a grilled cheese sandwich. At the time, I swore it was the best grilled cheese I had ever had, but that was really just the novelty.

Also, I really enjoyed saying "wok wok wok" under my breath whenever I used it.

Inventive (or strangeness, but who is to say which?) aside, I did use that wok to work on stir-frying meals for myself and, later, others. This was not the first time I set about to cook something, this was not the first time I fell for my kitchen, but this did really kick-start a passion in me to work on my cooking skills. Like many poor college students, sometimes my "gourmet cuisine" was actually a packet of ramen noodles with added
peas and a quickly scrambled egg. And, really, there is nothing wrong with that fast (delicious) lunch.

I love stir-fry, love having crisp veg and tender chicken, love figuring out sauces and flavors and how easy it feels to accomplish a pretty healthy meal. I ditched (read: gave to a friend) m
y wok when I moved across the country, but didn't reclaim it when I returned to Chicago. I had gotten over the joy of a wok and just started using pans, but about a week ago I moved in with a friend of mine.

She has a wonderfully sized kitchen - better than my last two apartments. She has a wok. She (now, we, I suppose) also happen to live very close to Thai Nam and a host of other amazing places and restaurants. So, when I decided that I wanted to cook a stir-fry, I scoped out some produce places nearby and gathered chicken and the veg that I wanted and then dropped by Thai Nam to pick up noodles. Then, enjoying some white wine, I put together this dish.

Tipsy Chicken and Wide Rice Noodles

- rice flake noodles
- extra virgin sesame oil
- grapeseed oil
- soy sauce

- white wine
- boneless, skinless chicken breast (cut into chunks)
- half a large onion (roughly chopped)
- mushrooms (sliced)
- red bell pepper (sliced) (you can also add any other color peppers as well)
- snow peas (although, I forgot them, so I used regular frozen)
- celery (sliced thin)

- garlic (however many cloves you want, sliced thin or diced)
- basil
- water chestnuts or bamboo shoots (or both or none)

First off, boil some water and pour it over the noodles in a large bowl. Follow the directions on the
packet (for however many noodles you want), but I tend to let them soak around seven minutes. I generally forget that I've got them waiting for me, but when they are done they will be white, opaque, and, well, it's cooked noodles. Sticky to touch, but still cooked noodles. You'll drain them, then ignore them.

Now, add your cooking oil (I used grapeseed, but peanut or canola are also fine) to the wok. Add garlic, basil, and onion. Stir for a few minutes, then add chicken. Season a little, stirring plenty, and pour in a small amount of wine (a few tablespoons, though you can more if you prefer. you could leave the whole thing out if you wanted.). As the wine cooks off, you should add some soy sauce and sesame oil, then cook chicken through. Add veg and cook until most are quite tender - the celery and water chestnuts will still be crisp. Drizzle some honey onto the mixture and keep stirring. You'll likely want a little more seasoning and soy sauce/sesame oil.

Add in the now-cooked and drained noodles. Continue to stir-fry until the noodles are heated and seaso
ned. You may need to add more oil at any point during this process, as you do not want anything sticking to the pan. When everything is cooked and seasoned to your satisfaction, simply remove from heat and serve still warm.

There are a lot of variations on this dish and I know there are things I wanted to have done differently (some changes I already made to this recipe), but I threw this together just a few nights ago and was pretty pleased with it. And, anyway, I haven't had the time to perfect it like my Mango-Chicken Stir-fry.