Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fun and falling at Red Butte Gardens

Last Month Delanie and I were in Salt Lake for my sister's wedding and Del learned that for all the years I lived in the city I never visited Red Butte Gardens. Last full day we were in town the weather was amazing so the two of us drove up there and mirth and pretty stuff ensued.

First part of the garden we visited was the herb garden. It was stunning and much to someone's joy all the flowers seemed to be in purple hues:

It's so PURPLE!
Though Delanie was not the only thing there excited about the purple flowers.
I was more excited about the red flowers:
It's almost a Venetian Red

It was such a special experience to share an amazingly beautiful setting with the woman I love. It really made for a perfect evening.

Though the moose made it even more perfect

We went though so many gardens. Hummingbirds were buzzing in and out in many of them and the rose garden was especially beautiful. It was capped off with the children's garden which is really just a fantastic little wonderland.
Scary Snakes
Birthday Cakes

(in the interests of full disclosure I lost my balance about 3 seconds after the picture was taken and slid off the statue and tumbled down the hill.....I think Delanie is still laughing. I feel in time, I will laugh as well)

A great time was had by both of us and we can't wait to go back be it with nieces and nephews or for a concert. I'm so thankful that Delanie insisted we go, she does know me pretty well!


Chicken Pot Pie with Savory Cheddar Crust

I have a thing about comfort food.  Well, truth be told I have a thing about MOST food, which is painfully obvious to everyone (especially those who check out my expanding waistline).  So today, because naturally it is hot and windy and miserable, the only thing to do was to create a hot dish.

I know.  It doesn't make sense to me either.

That being said, here is the recipe.


1 lb chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 leeks, trimmed and sliced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 head broccoli, tassels only
2 or 3 carrots, chopped
one container of mushrooms, sliced

4 T butter
4 T flour
2 1/2 c milk/heavy cream combo (because when in doubt, you should ALWAYS add cream)
pinch or two of saffron
1/2 c white wine (can substitute water/broth)
2 tsp chicken bouillon (I prefer Better Than Bouillon.  Because it's better.  It says so on the label.)
1 1/2 c shredded parmesan cheese

3 c flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 c butter, chilled
1/2 c shortening, chilled
1/2 c water 
2 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese


The humblest of ingredients, waiting to be submitted to the tender mercies of my needing-to-be sharpened knives.

Chop up your vegetables.  Remember, they are going into a pie and you don't want to have a bite that is ALL carrot, or ALL zucchini.  Think of this as a salad between piecrusts, and the salad law dictates that you want a bit of EVERY component in EVERY bite.
When you slice your leeks, remember to soak them in water first to remove any excess dirt they may be harboring within their tasty layers.

First, you take a leek...
This is where I miss JedI particularly badly.  He would make short work of all the veggies in no time at all, where I make missiles of them.  The dog doesn't mind, since she eats them.

 Next chop up your chicken.  I personally use kitchen shears, because I am a lazy and shiftless cook who has no sous chef to order around.

 Next, add enough water to cover the veggies/chicken, and a pinch of saffron.  Cover and let them simmer until the chicken is cooked through, but the veggies are still firm (approximately 15 minutes).  Nobody wants gooshy vegetables.  Drain them but reserve some of the liquid, then set them aside for a bit.

This is saffron.  It's pretty and it's delicious.

 Next, you'll begin your pastry crust.  Put the flour, shortening, butter, and salt into your food processor and mix it until it starts to look crumbly.  Add 1 cup of your cheese and mix again, then add 1/4 cup of water.  Blend it just until it starts to hold together--wrastling with pie crust is what makes it tough.  Again, nobody wants a callous or calloused pie crust.
 Dump the pastry onto some saran wrap, flatten it into a 7-inch disk, and pop it in the fridge for 1/2 an hour or so.  Then do all of this again, for the second pie crust. 
 Roll out the pie crust and then fill it with the chicken/vegetable mixture. 

 This is where we start the REALLY good stuff.  I always thought it was bechamel, but JedI has informed me that if it has cheese it's really called mornay sauce.  Say it.  Mornay. 

Dissolve your bouillon into your white wine, add a pinch more saffron, and set it aside.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and then add the flour.  Cook it for approximately five minutes or so, stirring it.  Don't skip cooking it for a bit; if you do, your pot pie goo will have the lingering taste of flour, which is not at all what we are going for.  For fanciness, this is referred to as a roux. 
  Good mornay, sweetie.  How did you sleep?
At this point I needed more hands in the kitchen if I were going to simultaneously photo-document and stir.  The stirring won out.  Sorry.

Grab a whisk, and SLOWLY pour the milk/cream into the roux.  It will initially thicken drastically; whisk it until it's nicely blended with no lumps, and then put the whisk in the sink.  Its job here is done.

Cooking on medium heat, stir the sauce until it thickens (this can take a while).  When it is thick, stir in your bouillon .  Next add your parmesan cheese one fistful at a time.  Stir in a figure 8 motion so your cheese doesn't melt into a giant glob.  When it is all incorporated, take it off the heat and pour it over the vegetables in your piecrust.  You might want to mix up the veggies and the mornay to ensure that every vegetable is lovingly coated in heart-attack creamy cheesy buttery goodness.

Cover your innards with your second piecrust and seal off the edges.  Most people go top-folded-under-bottom, but I do the reverse.  I find that it seals it up better and has far fewer chances for leakage.  Also, my piecrusts are not pretty.  When looking at my piecrusts we ALWAYS use the term "rustic," which means "looks like hell" but since it's called rustic I could serve this to anybody anywhere and they would appreciate my epicurean offering.

Rustic pie crust.
Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 40-45 minutes, until it is browned and delicious.

A browned and delicious chicken pot pie.
Now, you must wait.  It smells delicious and you are DYING to dig in; but the melty goodness will burn your mouth like a mothereffer, trust me, I know.  Give it at least 20 minutes resting to just...assimilate.  It will be worth it.
Anxiously awaiting the cooling period.
Well, hello there.
If you share your pot pie with me I will love you forever.

Please note the disgruntled dachshund in the background.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Midnight Run For The...

We were having a conversation this morning via Skype in anticipation of our upcoming visit this weekend. My show is going up Friday night at the State Thespian Convention and Jed is coming in to see it. Being in different states makes for a very lonely engagement; I don't know what we would do without Skype. Be sad and lonely, I suppose.

Anyway, through the course of the conversation somehow he mentioned in passing something about Taco Bell's new taco.
"What's new about it?" I asked idly, not expecting too much. C'mon, it's Taco Bell. And while I am out of touch with the real world since my fast food choices are currently limited to three and I don't watch much television, I was still personally a little miffed that I am not keeping abreast of fast food developments.
"It's a giant Dorito shell."
Suddenly I found myself focused with the laser-beam like intensity usually saved for when he's playing backgammon or when I am perusing shoes online. "What kind of Dorito?"
"Does it matter?"
"WELL!" I said. "I know somebody who's going to be making a run for the border in Vegas this weekend."
He sighed. "Well, I hope that peeing from the butt does not ruin our time together."
Amid laughing so hard I couldn't breathe and admiration for a description that is accurate it creates instant empathy, I managed to gasp out that until now I had always preferred the term 'perfect storm of poo.'
"I just picture that scene from 'Malcolm in the Middle,'" he said. "You know, the one where Lois buys the bigger bed and Hal gets upset and is screaming 'HOW LONG HAVE YOU FOUND ME HIDEOUS?!'"
"Will you respond with 'What time did you eat that taco'?" I asked.
"I'm just saying it's probably pretty hard to be aroused right after you finish doing the toilet seat pommel horse," he said.
"Yeah? Well, I will defeat you on this," I said defiantly. "What do you don't know is that my system is trained to digest Taco Bell. I spent years doing late night drive-thru quests!"
"No," he said thoughtfully. "In fact that is not a defeat. Frankly, sweetie, if you can digest that crap without killing us both from the aftereffects I'm seeing nothing but a win/win, here."

It has made me rethink my original plan. An extremely limited three days together while chaperoning Beasties and putting on a show was already going to take its toll; spending any spare time turning the bathroom into a gas chamber and/or emerging announcing "Hey, don't inhale in there, you'll get cancer," may be the death nail in the coffin titled "Romance and intimacy are not synonymous."

On the way home, though, after my sweet boy has left me and I am returning to the hinterlands once again feeling even sadder and lonelier than usual? All bets are off. I'm eating like six of those suckers. Because if I am sad and miserable there is no reason everyone on the bus shouldn't suffer with me, too.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pizza pizza pizza pizza pizza

" I had an acquaintance in college that was very outspoken on the "rule" that you should never order garlicky foods if you were going out on a hot date. She had a lot of dumb rules like this because she was the sort of person that would never do something so gauche as wear white after labor day. Quite frankly, I thought she was as dumb as a box of hair and I always made a point of traipsing through my dorm in a white sundress the day after Labor Day just to irritate her(and the dumbest thing was that it DID irritate her). But while I thought that most of her views were merely stupid, the rule against garlic on a hot date was pure evil in my view. Garlic is one of those things that makes life better and the idea of being involved with a man who I couldn't share garlicky kisses with? Why bother? Kisses shared over a hot loaf of garlic bread and a cheap bottle of red wine – THAT, my friend, is the kind of passion pool for which I have ever longed and found." (

She found her man, I found mine. Both (apparently) don't mind garlicky kisses and God bless 'em for it.

And here, my friends, is a recipe for roasted garlic pizza which totally makes me happy.

Kitchen equipment:
A whisk
A Cuisinart or blender
A pizza stone or pizza pan

Food part:
1 pizza crust of your favorite kind, and nobody will judge you if it's Boboli
30-40 cloves of garlic
2 T olive oil
1 cup milk
2 T butter
1 T flour
1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
salt/pepper to taste
TONS of mozzarella/fontina/parmesan/any white cheese you have around the house that might have survived the midnight forays into cheese snacking
balsamic vinegar to dip every delicious bit in until you realize that you are embodying everything your teenage friend says about wine "It's better when you get older even if it turns into vinegar and arsenic." and realize HE MAY NOT HAVE BEEN REFERENCING WINE.

(1/2) Preheat oven to 375. If you have a pizza stone and aren't afraid of it, let it preheat in the oven. Otherwise just let the oven preheat and get out the pizza pan. Try not to glare at it for taking up a large portion of the 6 square feet of counter space you have. It's going to do you a favor in just a minute.

(1) Prepare pizza crust and put it on the spacesuck pizza pan and/or pizza stone. (If you really want a homemade one, I do have it. Let me know and I'll help.)

(2) Take garlic cloves that are still in their handy, deity-or-strictly-coincidentally- nature made wrappers and toss 'em with the olive oil. Put them into the center of a square of aluminum foil, put another one over the top, fold each edge into a lovely Scout "hobo dinner" square and toss into a 375 oven until they are easily pierced with a fork (20-30 minutes approximately). Remove and let cool.

(3) Melt butter in saucepan, whisk in flour and salt/pepper, and cayenne. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add flour and whisk until smooth and thick. Scrape into a Cuisinart (or the cheap blender you have sitting out on your counter if you're not in the mood for cleaning the Cuisinart) and squeeze garlic out of its handy wrapper into the sauce. Don't be afraid. Add 20 or so cloves of garlic. Puree until smooth.

(4) Spread onto pizza crust. Resist the urge to eat as much of it with a spoon as you possibly can.

(5) Remove all of the nasty, inedible outside bits of the remaining roasted garlic and put the roasted garlic on the pizza. You may at this point feel the need to add at least two or three pieces of denuded garlic to a crusty slice of sourdough bread. This is ESSENTIAL to the process, if you're feeling it, and no good will come of denying this need.

(6) Sprinkle with all the white cheese in the house. (I don't recommend the apricot Stilton but any mild cheese should not be discounted.)

(6) Bake until pizza cheese is bubbling and golden brown.

(7) Let it sit for a few minutes. While you may convince your sweetie that garlicky kisses are not to be denied, it is REALLY hard to convince them that someone galloping around a kitchen shrieking "My tongue! My tongue! ARGH, it burns, it BURNS!" is remotely sexy.

(8) After it has reached human consumption temperature of coolness, drizzle with a good balsamic vinegar and devour. Prepare to eat at least three pieces of this, telling yourself all the while that they are small and not commercial-sized pieces, so it's okay.

I love you, roasted garlic pizza. If I weren't making barbacoa pork salads for dinner tomorrow, I would totally have indulged in you Right Now.

Monday, February 20, 2012

An Ode to Bacon

I am about as technologically savvy as, well, nobody. Everybody is more technologically savvy than I am. So when my little sister said "You need to get on Pinterest!" I whined, and carped, and caviled, and generally didn't understand it and didn't want to.

Then I finally figured it out...and Ye Gods, Like I Didn't Have Enough Timesucks Before. It's horribly addictive; pretty pretty pictures, and the food...wargh, the food...

So I have arranged my day because I saw these and realized that my life is absolutely incomplete until I make and eat browned butter and bacon chocolate chip cookies.

Here is a picture:


and here is her recipe.

You're welcome.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Well met, Comrades

I've had boyfriends before, but never one who understood how important food is to me. It has been suggested that I could eat out for every meal--and at decent restaurants, not just fast-food drive-thrus--for far cheaper than I budget for groceries. One boyfriend I had refused to buy yogurt unless it was on sale three-for-a-dollar. Nevermind that it was a store or off brand and not the good stuff...I still refused to spend my life with a man who buys food according to what it costs, not how it tastes. I knew that this boyfriend and I were truly on the downhill slope when he confessed that he found eating to be an annoyance. “It’s such a waste of time,” he said. “Don’t you just wish you could take a pill or something and never have to eat?”
“No,” I said around a mouthful of huckleberry shortcake. “Does that mean I can have the rest of your turtle pie?”
“Sure,” he said, and the relationship was doomed. It would be one thing if he gave it to me because he loved me, but he gave it to me because he didn’t care about eating it.

For me, love and food go hand-in-hand, or hand in mouth possibly, and the best boyfriends are the ones who understand the Relationship Pie Chart (hereinafter "RPC") and how for me it’s 92% food, 58% sex, 92% love, and 77% havin’-a-laugh. Those boyfriends will also not point out that according to that ratio, my relationship pie chart has 319% in it. I got into theater for a REASON, people, and it was not owing to my math skillz.

Enter Jed I., and finally Darth Del found that soul mate who embodies all four of the important parts of the RPC. Bonus Points: He's a sous chef.

More bonus points: He's not a boyfriend anymore.

He's gonna marry me.

I WIN!!!!!

So down to blog purposes; I tried to come up with a catchy one-word mashing of it but could only think Blurpose, which is either something you inadvertently do after eating a lot of fried foods and cabbage, or is a crafty sea mammal bent on obfuscation. Possibly both. Regardless, this is a place where we can share our food rhapsodizing, our recipes, our culinary adventures, and conversational amuse-bouche.

There may also be a good deal of ranting.

There will definitely be posting on food, love, and havin' a laugh; not necessarily in that order.

--del rex