armadillas


Almost like my Granny

I’ve been craving me some biscuits and gravy! Mmm there’s nothing like a plate of gravy to fill your soul with warmth…or remind you that times are low. Poor man’s food at it’s finest without breaking out the Ramen. Actually, gravy reminds me of my Granny. She made gravy and biscuits, gravy and toast- whatever was on hand- all the time growing up. I remember standing by the stove as a little girl as she showed me to make the stuff. Melt the butter. Add the flour. Stir the roux. Finally add the milk and season to taste. Since she’s a vegetarian she always made a simple white gravy and that’s how I’ve always preferred mine. But today I’m feeling a little adventurous. Sausage, anyone?

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Aside from fond memories with my Granny (I really should go up for a visit!), biscuits and gravy is a cheap meal. I fed three people dinner and had some leftover for breakfast the next morning all for $4.65. Can’t beat that!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb breakfast sausage
  • Butter/oil if needed
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Seasoned salt to taste

The first thing you need to do is brown your sausage. I personally prefer to do this in a pot, but you can use a deep skillet or I know lots of people that prefer to use a cast iron skillet. To each their own

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Make sure to break it up!

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Once your sausage is all browned up, you may need to add some extra fat. This sausage was pretty lean so I added about a tablespoon of oil. I prefer to use butter, but oil works just as well. Now that you have the needed fat, stir in the flour

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If you like, you can remove the meat and make a roux, but I’m lazy and find adding the flour directly to the sausage to be more convenient. Make sure to stir the flour in really well.

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Let it cook for a minute. This will make a nice thick gravy!

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Add the milk. I only like to use 3 cups, but if you prefer a thinner gravy you can add more. Bring to a little boil, stirring constantly. If you don’t stir, it’ll stick to the bottom, the milk will scorch, and all that bad stuff. So keep stirring. Once you get that boil going, turn the heat down to low.

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Season with salt and pepper. Go light on the salt because the sausage is usually pretty salty. If your tastes are anything like mine, go heavy on the pepper. I like my gravy nice and peppery. You can add some seasoned salt too (aka Red Robin Seasoning)

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Taste as you go!

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Allow to simmer until the gravy reaches your desired thickness, maybe 10 minutes. It’s usually done by the time the biscuits are ready. Don’t forget to put them in the oven!

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Oh yes, this is what I’m talking about! Plate up and serve!

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Not quite like Granny, but still pretty darn good!

 

 


Almost like my mama

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What do you know? I’m back again already! That’s because I cook in phases. This has been a very good weekend for cooking. Unfortunately, I don’t have detailed pictures for this recipe, but that’s okay. I’ll probably revisit this again in the future.

Once I boasted that I my diet consists largely of chicken dishes and Italian food. With an Italian father who also happens to be a chef, that’s what we ate. That’s what I love. That’s some of my favorite comfort food. But Italian is not the only thing in the blood. I come from a Southern family. Fried chicken, cornbread, barbecue, and (my absolute favorite!) fried cauliflower are also classic comfort foods in my kitchen, especially if you serve it all with a heaping bowl of mac n cheese. However, with the holidays approaching and the weather crisping up, I’ve been feeling awfully Polish of late. That’s right. I got some of that going on as well.

When I was dating the sous chef, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that his family serves pierogies with their holiday meals. And they are so good! Pierogies and kielbasa. I really hope to feast on them again this year, too. My family eats Gołąbki. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the term, golabki is also referred to as cabbage rolls or stuffed cabbage. Now this wasn’t a holiday meal for us as more of a I’m-in-a-golabki-mood kind of meal. I remember the first time my mom made it. I was not excited about the idea of having stuffed cabbage for dinner. Keep in mind I was a picky child. Thank goodness I grew out of that! But let me tell you, one bite and I was hooked. Tender cabbage, seasoned meat, homemade tomato sauce if you have the time and produce (my mama always bought it in a jar, but I’m a scratch kinda girl). Delicious!

This time I did not make my own tomato sauce, and this is not my mama’s recipe. I’ve made modifications of my own that seem to have worked out better than I expected.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cabbage
  • 1 onion
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup or so of prepared quinoa (rice is used traditionally; be my guest)
  • 1 egg
  • Salt, pepper, and parsley
  • 3/4 cabbage water
  • 1/4 cup + another 1/2 cup tomato sauce plus more for serving

The first thing you need to do is set a large pot of water to boiling for your cabbage. While you wait for that to happen, remove the core of the cabbage. This has never been my forte, in fact I’ll admit that I sent the core shooting across the kitchen and knocked a glass off the counter. If you don’t know how to core a cabbage, I recommend YouTube. We are boiling/blanching our cabbage whole, so don’t go butchering the poor thing. I’m pretty sure my mom did not boil it whole but removed the leaves to boil. Don’t ask how she managed that. In my opinion, you get less tears if you boil the thing whole. Less work, too.

Once you’ve cored the cabbage and your water begins to boil, place the cabbage in the pot core side down and cover with a lid. If your pot isn’t large enough to really submerge the whole head, you can flip it over halfway through. Don’t forget to salt your water.

Meanwhile, shop your onion and bell pepper, and mince the garlic. Get out a saute pan and set it on medium, drizzle it with some oil, and let your veggies sizzle. Cook them down for about ten minutes until tender. Make sure to salt and pepper them to your liking. When they are done, set aside in a mixing bowl.

Check your cabbage. At this point it might be ready. Sometimes you just have to start removing some of the outer leaves and put the heart of the cabbage back to boil. I prefer doing this on a cookie sheet for easy clean up. Using one fork, spear your cabbage core. Use another fork to peel back as many of the tender outer leaves as you can and set them aside. Maybe you’ll gt lucky and the whole thing is tender, but I doubt it. Place the rest of the cabbage back into the pot and continue boiling.

Now, I really wish i had a picture for this part. If you’ve worked with cabbage before, you know that each leaf has a little rib in it. This makes for difficult rolling. Take a paring knife and peel off the thickest portion of the rib. You don’t want to cut all the way through the leaf. Just remove as much as the rib as you can while leaving your cabbage leaf in one piece. It’s not as hard as it sounds, though your cabbage may still be rather warm so don’t burn yourself with hot water that may be collected in the leaves. Once the cabbage is all set, we can work on the filling.

As I mentioned, traditionally rice is used for the filling. I decided to give quinoa a try because I’ve never really had it before and was told it’s a lovely rice substitute. The verdict is still out, but it still left me with a great dish. If you don’t want to use quinoa, stick with rice. White rice, brown rice, it’s up to you. I used to save those little cartons of rice that came with my Chinese food. Works great!

Anyway, take your mixing bowl with the onion mixture and add the meat, the egg, the quinoa, 1/2 cup of tomato sauce, and salt, pepper, and parsley to taste. Mix it all up with your hands. Really get in there! That’s it! Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and start rolling.

You may think the idea of assembling your cabbage rolls is hard work, but it’s not. I’ve been doing it since I was 11. You can too. Of course, there aren’t precise measurements here. You have to go a little on instinct. If you’re nervous about running out of filling, you can count up your leaves then roughly divide your filling within the bowl. I just separate it into quarters and go from there. If you run out of filling, that’s okay because we want to save a few of the cabbage leaves anyway for baking.

To roll your cabbage, take a leaf and place it in front of you so that it looks like a little cup. The thickest part of the rib should be facing you. Take a spoonful of filling and plop it onto the end of the leaf where that thick rib used to be. Roll the leaf over the filling once, keeping it tight. Once you get over that first roll, fold the sides in then continue rolling. Someone once told me it was similar to rolling an eggroll. I’ve never rolled an eggroll so I’ll have to take their word on that. If you don’t get how to do it, YouTube is your friend. There are plenty of videos on how to make golabki. Some of them are in Polish, but that doesn’t matter. Just watch the technique. I promise it’s easy. Of course, the bigger your leaf, the more filling you’re going to use. The smaller the leaf, the less filling. Just feel it out!

Line a baking dish with your rolls. Some people cook their golabki on the stove. I prefer baking. I only got 11 out of my cabbage, but I’ve been known to get as many as 16. It depends on the head. It’s only me, so I didn’t want to make all that many. However, these taste even better the next day so they make great leftovers. Yum!

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Once you have all your rolls lined in the dish, take about 3/4 cup of your cabbage water and mix it with about 1/4 of a cup of your tomato sauce. My mom just doused the whole thing in tomato sauce. You can do that if you like. Next, cover the rolls with a few of the leftover cabbage leaves. Now cover the whole thing with foil and stick it in the oven.

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Bake for an hour and 15 minutes. Then turn off the oven and leave it in for another 15 minutes. You basically just steamed your rolls, so wait a bit before you remove the foil and cabbage rolls, anywhere between another 15 minutes up to half an hour.

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My preferred way of serving is with more tomato sauce. So heat some up and spread over your rolls. Maybe you have some pierogies on hand to serve with them as well.

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Once upon a time

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So I know a while ago I said I was back after realizing I could upload posts from my phone. If you haven’t already figured it out, I was not a fan of phone-blogging. Took too much time. But now I have my crappy laptop back for the time being so I might as well cook up a storm while it lasts. Don’t get too excited, though. I’m moving. Again. Because that’s what I do. So once again, I’ll try to cook more often while I can, but things won’t really pick up again until I get into my new place. Hopefully this one will last a little longer.

Anyway, for those of you that don’t know me too well, I am not a fan of pot roast. See, I’ve always been a chicken girl. Then I became a sometimes pork girl. Never have I considered myself a beef girl, though I do enjoy a well made steak. However, the other day I really wanted to sink my teeth into some meat. And when I think meat, I think cow. Chuck it up to the gloomy days we’ve been having, but I decided pot roast was going to be on the menu.

Only, I’d never made a pot roast before. Thanks to Google and several blogs, I came up with a semblance of a recipe to work with. It’s not perfect, and I’m sure once I really develop a taste for pot roast I’ll come up with something better, but it wasn’t as bad as I’ve always imagined. I’d really like to know when I developed such a negative idea about pot roast…

Since this was my first attempt, measurements weren’t really exact. I kinda just threw things into the pot!

 

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Ingredients:

  • 3 lb boneless chuck roast
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Carrots, chopped
  • Celery, chopped
  • Onion, chopped
  • Garlic, minced
  • 1 15oz can diced tomatoes
  • Red wine

When I started my research, I noticed a trend. People like to sear their meat first. I’m not saying this is a necessary step. Please keep in mind I’m still not quite a pot roast enthusiast yet, but it seemed like a pretty good idea. So I pulled out my big pot, turned the heat on high, drizzled it with a bot of oil, and dropped my chuck in. Careful not to let it splatter. Don’t forget to salt and pepper it first. Liberally.

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Notice the fat. I’m told fat is good for pot roast. Adds mm mm flavor. Make sure to sear all the sides until nice and golden. But we aren’t cooking the meat all the way. That’s not what searing means. We just want to brown the outside. Place on a plate when it’s ready and turn the heat down to medium. Hopefully your kitchen didn’t become as smokey as mine when you seared your roast. Bad ventilation…?

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Now the aromatics! Add a splash more olive oil to the pot then take all those chopped veggies (plus the minced garlic) and toss them in. Oh, just smell it!

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Cook them down for five minutes or so. Add the seared chuck back to the pot.

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Tomato time! Pop the lid and pour them in.

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Ah, next the wine. Red wine. Any red wine you like. I decided to try this one, but pick your favorite!

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I’d go with about two cups. Or more. Just save yourself a glass. also, add some greenery. Rosemary and thyme please.

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Bring to a boil then turn the heat way low. Cover and simmer. And simmer. And simmer. In fact, just forget about it for a good long time. Five hours, eight hours, overnight. Pretend it doesn’t exist. Only, that’s going to be pretty hard. I may not be a pot roast girl, but it sure does smell good. Does it get any better than this? I recommend leaving the house for a while. The temptation is too great!!!

After that good long while, you can check on your roast. Some people turn the heat back up at this point for another 30 minutes, flipping halfway through. I decided to give it a try. I’m not really sure this was a good idea uncovered, but went with it anyway.

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All done! Plate ‘er up! I served mine with mashed taters. That recipe will come along eventually.

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Not bad for my first time, but I didn’t cook mine as long as I would have liked. So make sure to forget about yours!

 

 

 


Fenway

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The first time I ever tried kimbap was in a hair salon. No joke. Sure, this isn’t the usual place one may expect to chow down on this Korean rice dish, but to be fair we were expecting to be at the salon for several hours and beauty requires energy. You see, when my cousin and I were in high school we went through this period of getting out naturally curly hair straightened. I can’t remember why. I guess it was hip or something, which was a shame really because curls run in the family and now that I’m an adult I better appreciate their beauty. But we were kids and our mothers may have had something to do with it. Her own mother being Korean, we always made a long drive a few towns over to get to the Korean salon (and honestly they do hair the best; I’ve tried the Brazilian treatments and would go Korean/Japanese in a heartbeat). Anyway, so that’s how I came to discover the magnificence that is kimbap, sitting on a leather couch in the middle of a Korean run salon while I watched my cousin’s thick curls be flattened out to straight perfection. It was love at first bite.

Now kimbap isn’t as easy to come by as one might think. Korean doesn’t seem quite as popular as Chinese takeout, but I’ve managed to find a few holes in the wall. Even better is making friends with someone that can make kimbap. I’ve attempted to make it myself a few times, following recipes quite miserably. But Friday night all that changed when I went over to a coworker’s apartment for lessons. And you know what? It really is not that hard.

Since it was a lesson and I was at a friend’s place, I didn’t document the process as well as I could have, but hopefully you find what I do have to be helpful.

Ingredients:

Seaweed sheets
Sticky rice
Cucumber
Spam (I usually eat it with imitation crab strips)
Egg
Daikon (pickled radish)

Really, you can put whatever you like in your kimbap, but I think the usual ingredients include daikon, egg, spam/crab, bulgogi, cucumber, carrot, maybe some spinach. We didn’t use all these things in my lesson.

Make up some sticky rice. I’m not 100 % sure how to do this, but my friend said it was better than using sushi rice.

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Fry your egg and spam, then slice them into long strips. Slice your veggies into long strips as well.

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If you’re not a professional sushi or kimbap roller, a recommend using a bamboo mat to make your rolls. Spread the rice out thinly over a seaweed sheet, rough side up.

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Line the end closest to you with your fillings. Using the bamboo mat as a guide,  roll everything together. This may be awkward at first but you’ll get the hang of it!

And that’s it. Keep rolling them slice it up into bite size pieces. Yumm

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Share with the dog if you feel so obliged

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Patron

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Today I learned that I can use my “smart” phone to upload posts. I’m back!


Curves

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As a curvy girl myself that doesn’t fit into the standard notion of stick figure American “beauty,” I always appreciate it when I stumble upon other more vuluptuous women that offer fashion and beauty advice. Like Tanesha Awasthi . Isn’t she just gorgeous?! I discovered her early this morning while browsing through some of the other blogs I follow and I instantly fell in love. I’ve decided I must fall in love rather easily, because I swear every day my heart starts pattering for one thing or another. Anyway, I’m not anti-skinny or anything like that. There are other beauty/fashion blogs I visit every now and then where a plus sized woman is nowhere in sight. BUT it is nice to see a girl closer to my size pointing out tips that are actually practical for my body type. It inspires me to put a little more umph into my wardrobe instead of settling for things a granny might wear, and I am too spicy to be dressing like I’m 80…which I admit used to happen back in high school when I didn’t know didly squat about make-up and heels and miniskirts. Of course, I’ve long since grown out of that terrible phase, but now that I have a big girl job where I’m expected to dress like a, well, big girl, it’s nice to be able to relate to my fashion guru instead of wishing I could squeeze into the same skinny jeans she wore last week. I may not be quite as chunky as I sometimes imagine, but skinny jeans aren’t exactly my go to outfit for a night on the town.

Girl with Curves, go check that goddess out!


Just a taste

Today I discovered a new food blog (surprise, surprise!) and as soon as the clock strikes 6, I’m jumping into my car, rushing home and making her Lobster Rolls with Garlic Butter Buns…only with crab since that’s what I happen to have in my fridge.

Hopefully someday soon I’ll actually get to test some of these recipes out for you. Until then, I wish you happy eating!


No Charge

My computer died. Again. Guess I should just get a new one. Bleh…


Puppy Training

Today was so much fun! Recently, a friend of mine adopted a Bernese Mountain dog. Ohmygoshsocute! He’s only 11 weeks old and he’s the most adorable thing ever. I wish I had a decent picture of him, but every time I whipped out my phone, he would move, leaving me with blurry photos. Today we took him to puppy training. I never thought I would be interested in attending something like that, but honestly I had a blast with it. Today’s class was about loose-leash training and greeting, which means we walked the dogs around the store, luring them forward with treats. Little Max is not much of a walker. He gets tired so quickly! But he was a really good boy.

Ah, makes me want a dog of my own! Hmmm maybe I’ll consider it as summer approaches. By then I should be nicely settled in here.

Enough about pups, let’s get to the other good stuff. I would like you all to meet Laura. She is another recent Youtube discovery. I really enjoy her videos and thought it was about time I tested one out. Because it’s Sunday and Sundays are about brunch, I chose to make her hash brown recipe. I can’t say my attempt was A+ successful – practice makes perfect mind you- but they were pretty good all things considered. I did, of course, make a few alterations.

Recipe courtesy Laura Vitale

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Ingredients:
1 large russet potato, peeled (I used three Idaho potatoes)
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons grated onion or shallot (I only had onion powder on hand- season to taste!)
1 egg white
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil (I used canola)

Find some potatoes

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And peel them!

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Using a box grater, go ahead and grate them up. I only have a little hand grater so I grated the potatoes directly into a bowl of cold water. This helps to remove some of the extra starch

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Look at that murky water! Let sit for about 5 minutes while you clean up your work space -ahem- stuff everything down your dish disposal

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Now comes the fun part. If you have a potato ricer, you’re in luck. If not, you’ll have to do it the old fashioned way like me. Take your shredded potato and place it in a cloth. Now twist the cloth into a ball around the potatoes and squeeze squeeze squeeze squeeze squeeze until you get as much water out as your hands can muster

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Bravo!

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Put into a bowl and add all other ingredients except the oil: flour, egg, onion, salt, pepper. I took the liberty of adding parmesan-romano as well. To each their own!

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In a skillet, preheat enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan on medium-high. Fill 1/3 of a cup with the shredded potato mixture

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Carefully place the potato mixture into the hot oil. Then using the bottom of the measuring cup, flatten out the hash brown

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These are supposed to take 5-7 minutes on one side, but I felt like mine were burning slightly. Adjust heat accordingly if you must. Once golden brown, flip and cook for another 5 minutes or until golden brown again. Remove from oil and continue cooking up the hash browns until there’s no more to be cooked. My batch made six (I ate a couple while cooking).

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As you can see, mine aren’t quite as pretty as Laura’s but they were tasty enough for my first go at hash browns. Next time I think I will add some more cheese…and perhaps some garlic. They tasted fine on their own, but if you had a couple burnt edges, a dollop of sour cream does the trick!

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By the way, no turkey recipe for us today- it’s still slightly frozen so maybe tomorrow. I sure hope it’s thawed out by then. I definitely plan on using it for dinner all week long. Turkey salad, turkey noodle soup, roast turkey sandwiches…

I tell you one thing, though. The downside to cooking here is the smell fills up the whole apartment and can last for a couple days. I’m not even going to tell you how sensitive the smoke alarm is. Pouring a bowl of cereal could make it go off!


Chills and Youtube

As you guys know, I’ve been on a Youtube kick when it comes to finding recipes. Today, I was in search of a recipe for creamed spinach, and not for any particular reason mind you. I’ve never eaten my spinach creamed before so I thought I’d see what it was all about…especially since I should probably add more spinach to my diet, along with other vegetable. And since I’m not much of a salad enthusiast (all rabbit food if you want my opinion), I’m currently exploring other vegetable friendly options. Anyway, there I was waiting to watch a video when the most charming advertisement popped up on my screen. Usually, I skip all ads that come my way, but this one was different; it was a full video on how to make apple cider in your very own kitchen! I was hooked as soon as soon as I saw the apples laid out. I just knew I was in for a treat, and I certainly was!

The channelpagewhateveryouwanttocallit is Thirsty For…by tasemade and I’m in love. Seriously, I’ve already watched all twelve videos. The first thing I plan on making is their masala chai. Mmm chai. My favorite! Though I generally prefer it iced to hot, but considering I’ve chosen not to turn on my heat…

For some reason the embed feature is linked to the above video, but that’s okay. I don’t mind (I just don’t feel like fiddling with it right now. Here is the link for the chai! Ahh, hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Watching things like this makes me remember how much I love cooking- the art, the science, the craft of it. Sorry, I didn’t actually cook anything in this post, but I just couldn’t wait to share my find! On a bright note, today I bought my first turkey breast. Yeah, that’s right. A turkey breast! I always assumed you had to go to a fancyshmancy grocer for such things, but nope! Hopefully it’s thawed out by tomorrow…