Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Vanilla Beans and Tito's Vodka

Finally! My vanilla beans arrived, and the husband brought home a small bottle of vodka, so my vanilla making can commence.
I chose a lovely bottle of my favorite vodka, the locally distilled Tito's, for the base. Vanilla beans from Mexico will infuse their rich, slightly smokey flavor over the next 2 to 6 months. 

Apparently, all I have to do is shake it occasionally (and be patient) and after awhile, I'll have some fantastic homemade vanilla.

I'll keep you posted, with pictures monthly and a review of the final product once I deem it recipe-worthy.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Fish Tacos

Mmm. My relationship with tacos only recently expanded to include those with fish. They were rare, hard to spot on a restaurant menu growing up, at least here in Texas, or my eating habits did not include much fish, a direct consequence of only eating (and not much liking) gefilte fish, according to the Husband. Things might have been different in, say, California. A Bon Appetit (involved, multi-step, chill overnight) recipe got me started, and we've adapted it and changed  up some of the components so it can be a quick weeknight meal instead of a drawn-out, only-on-the-weekend affair.

We actually made these ages ago, but I found the pictures over the weekend and almost cried because I hadn't shared them yet. Okay, maybe not, but I was curious as to what was taking me so long to get this goodness to you.

Ingredients and directions, since there are many components

4 to 6 oz fish per person (we used tilapia, we've also used salmon and orange roughy)
1 tablespoon achiote paste (found in the Latin food aisle, comes in a box)
1 table spoon olive oil
1/2 cup flour (optional)

Combine the achiote paste and olive oil in a small bowl. Slather onto the fish, and cover and chill for at least 30 minutes, or up to four hours if you've got time. While the fish is chilling, prepare the other components of the dish, so everything is ready to go when the fish goes in the pan.

Coat both sides of fish lightly with flour prior to cooking. (Optional)
Cook in a large pan over medium high heat, turning once, until cooked through or desired doneness is reached. Cooking times vary for different types of fish.

1 cup black beans
1 cup corn
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup cilantro (or to taste)
1 cup chopped onion, rinsed
Jalepeno, or serrano, chopped (seeds have the heat, use gloves or be very careful and don't touch your eyes while handling chili peppers)
1 tablespoon lime juice, or more to taste
Combine all ingredients into a bowl and stir to combine. Taste and adjust salt, pepper, lime juice, cilantro, and heat as needed. Ideally, this salsa will sit for a couple of hours or longer to allow flavors to combine, but it doesn't have to.

Chipotle Mayo
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon adobo sauce from canned chipotle chilis in adobo, plus one half to one chili chopped
Combine mayo and sauce (and chili if using) in small bowl, stir to combine.

Olive oil
Chili powder (or other spices as desired)
Brush tortillas with olive oil, sprinkle with spices. Grill tortillas for 30 seconds on each side, until heated through. Grilling tortillas gives them amazing flavor.
(no pictures of that part, sorry)

Other toppings, as desired
Cabbage, sliced or shredded
Mango, chopped
Fresh lime wedges

We start with tortillas.

Then add the chipotle mayo, then the fish.
Next comes salsa, cheese, and mango. I add cabbage at this step but the husband does not.

Avocado tops it up, then time to enjoy!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Long Shopping List (and flood pictures!)

It's Saturday morning, and that means magazines, cookbooks, and a shopping list. It's actually been awhile since I've created a grocery list this way, but it is the preferred method since it means we will then have actual rounded meals. Planned out ahead of time, not decided upon at the last minute because steaks looked good at the grocery store. Again.

So this weekend, along with this long list, we have a menu for the week. Tonight is salmon with mango-peach salsa, broccoli, and cilantro-lime rice. Also in the running for dinners this week are the lettuce cups in this month's Bon Appetit, a favorite summertime tagliatellle with cherry tomatoes and zucchini, and something to accompany a tomato cucumber salad that I will continue to make all summer long, while these ingredients are at their best.
My goal: to post at least one of these recipes this week. Maybe more, if I get ambitious.
In other news, part of why this blog has been so lacking in new content the past month or so is because we're still dealing with the aftermath of our house flooding. All of the furniture that is usually in our guest room and library/workout room is in the den off the kitchen, and throughout the hallways. It is a constant reminder of how much work we have done and have left to do before returning to normal. We're doing the work ourselves, trying to get the most out of the insurance money. The two rooms have their new floors and baseboards in them. This weekend we plan to caulk and paint, with the hopes of starting to move furniture back in Sunday night or Monday.
Reviewing the pictures of the damage to post on here, I recalled the one massive feeling of the day, aside from the despair that coated everything. Never is it more clear how much stuff you have than when you're forced to move it quickly to prevent ruin. The other part of that, at least for me, was the realization of exactly how clean we keep the house on a regular basis, because a lot of the stuff that had to be moved would not have been there if the house was immaculate. I would like to say I learned from this experience and now keep the house shiny and clean with everything put away, and maybe after we get finished with the renovations I will, but now there is still stuff all over the house (in fairness, there kind of has to be now). We'll see.
Aside from new floors, the major positive that came out of this experience is the huge amount of stuff I was finally able (allowed myself) to get rid of. The trunks of my car and my mom's car were both completely full of clothes and other goodwill-worthy items. That part of it felt good.

The water seeping into the garage. The garage is at the front of the house, the broken toilet at the back.

Water on the rug in the bedroom. The pile of clothes at the top of the picture was in the bathroom, laundry sorted and ready to get washed.

Closet in the guest room.

Floor of the guest room. The comforter absorbed a lot of the water - the edge was in contact with the floor. The bed was one of the first places we started stacking things to get them off of the floor.

The den off the kitchen, with the contents of bookshelves and the floor of my closet.

The giant fans that dried out the house (and drove us crazy with the noise for days).

The fan and dehumidifier in the bedroom. They only tore out half the flooring in that room because the water only reached so far. The floor is still like that.

The bathroom. The cords ran all over the house to various outlets and bathtubs.