Blueberry Muffins for Lunch

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Over the past week, I’ve had 2 vaccines, a TB test, and two titers drawn, in addition to lots of waiting in doctor’s offices and the DMV. Something had to be better today in reward for my patience.

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I had to be allowed to make a giant mess of my kitchen and eat blueberry muffins for lunch because I said so. Not just any blueberry muffins, either. Amazing blueberry muffins devised by one of my primary girl crushes, Joy the Baker. Brown Butter Blueberry Muffins.

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A futuristic in-the-oven shot! It’s been a while. This took place when everything was just starting to smell so good that I may have been going a bit mad.

These muffins are awesome.

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Because Joy is a genius. She knows that the only way to make buttery muffins better is to make them taste even butterier.

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And to add crunchy, crumbly delicious topping.

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In addition to her fantastically silly and awe-inspiring blog, the Joy the Baker podcast also fills a void that I didn’t know I had. (And made me get way into shutterbean, thankfully!) And listening to her interview awesome inspirational people on We’re About to Be Friends makes me want to be a better blogger. Better baker. Better person. Better everything.

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Look at all those blueberries!

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Seriously. I’m probably obsessed. I may have just gotten a haircut that inadvertently (I swear!) looks a lot like hers on the cover of her new cookbook.

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Completely an accident. I promise. But I love it.

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I also totally ate blueberry muffins and milk for lunch, which is something of which I think Joy would totally approve.

Will I ever not be scared of frying? Zucchini & Corn Fritters!

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Our zucchini plant has taken over the garden. It is enormous, and when it makes zucchini, it makes gigantic zucchini all over the place. It makes zucchini the size of kids’ baseball bats. What to do with all this crazy vegetable goodness that my picky man will eat with gusto?

Zucchini fritters!

This was my first time making such a thing, and I’ll admit right here that I’m kind of scared of frying things in general. I hate the little burning drops of oil that fly up into your face and on your arms. I’m not particularly good at flipping things without ruining them. And, I’m in constant panic that if I don’t burn the food, then I might either burn the kitchen down or cause the smoke alarm to start going off and not be able to get it to stop. (Jinger, why do you have a cooking and crafting blog when you are constantly scared of doing those things? I think that the answer lies in the question, my dear friends.)

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For this first go-round, I looked up a fantastic recipe from right here on smitten kitchen, and decided to face my fears head-on. (Full disclosure: I’m also nervous around my food processor, and the fact that it never seems to work properly makes me swear many, many times and wonder if just using a box grater would be faster and less nerve-wracking.)

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Here’s my shredded zucchini, all full up with salt and letting go of all its water.

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And here’s the part that I was excited about doing — squeezing the water out of the zucchini. I’ve seen so many TV chefs do this, and now I am a part of their cadre.

It was actually just kind of cold and weird, and required a lot more muscle than I previously thought.

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Sad, deflated zucchini. Mixed it all up with some onions, egg, flour, pepper, and baking powder, and then couldn’t avoid the boiling oil any longer.

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And nothing got ruined!

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It was a kitchen miracle. Plus, they were extremely well-recieved. I’m still not a frying genius or anything, but I definitely got some confidence there.

So much that I did it all again the next week, and got fancy all up on that zucchini.

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I’ve held a delusion in my head for a while that I could create something just as delicious as those corn cake-fritter-type-things that you can get at Whole Foods. I’m not there yet, but I think that this adaptation on smitten kitchen‘s recipe is getting close.

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Close enough.

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Close enough that I feel quite clever over here.

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Because (guess what!) I get freaked out sometimes about branching out and modifying recipes and doing my own thing in the kitchen. I’d much rather think of myself as a craftsman rather than an artist in the kitchen because kitchen failure is a particularly shaming type of failure, to me anyway. However, moments like these that end with deliciously creamy, sweet, crispy-edged, and hearty zucchini and corn fritters like these make me quite proud.

Want to eat them, too? I know you do!

Zucchini & Corn Fritters
adapted from smitten kitchen‘s Zucchini Fritters

2 lbs. zucchini (about 4 medium zucchini, or 2 ginormous mutant homegrown ones)
1 15.25 oz. can of corn, drained and rinsed
2 tsp. coarse salt, plus extra to taste
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
olive or cooking oil, for frying

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Keep baking sheet warmed and ready in oven.

Trim ends off of zucchini and grate either with a food processor (if you’re ready to have an obscenity fit, like me) or with your box grater (which went much more smoothly the second time). Toss the shredded zucchini, drained corn, and coarse salt in a large bowl, and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Wring out the zucchini and corn mixture either in a colander or with a clean kitchen towel or cheesecloth. Get out as much water as you can, as this prevents soggy fritters. Soggy fritters are gross.

Put the mixture back into the bowl and add salt to taste. The original recipe suggested 1/4 tsp. more per pound of zucchini, but I found that we needed just a touch more. Stir in the onions, eggs, pepper, flour, and cornmeal until fully moistened and well-blended.

Heat 2 tbsp. of oil over medium-high heat until super-hot and shimmering (I love this term). Drop small bunches of the zucchini mixture onto the skillet and flatten them gently with your spoon or spatula. Cook the fritters for 2-3 minutes, until the edges underneath are golden brown. Flip the fritters and cook them on the opposite side for about 2-3 minutes more. Remove them from the oil, drain them on paper towels, and then place them on the pre-warmed baking sheet in the oven while you keep cooking. Keep making fritters until you just can’t make them anymore. Make sure that they stay in the oven long enough to set up properly and stay crisp until you’re ready to eat.

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We ate these with just ketchup, and it was fabulous. The original recipe has a sour cream- or yogurt-based topping that goes with it, and that sounds amazing as well.

These keep in the fridge for about a week (if you can even make them last that long) or can be frozen for months and reheated when you’re ready. Yum!

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With corn or without, the result is the same. Empty plates and happy people.

New York Recap (or alternately titled…holy crap, you guys got to do what now?)

So. There’s this thing called Broadway Across America. And there’s this brother I have who’s a crazy person who gives ridiculous gifts. And there’s a little thing called a thirtieth birthday that I have coming up that needed to be celebrated in style.

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In New York City, there are a ridiculous amount of things to do, but we kept it limited to a very select few activities:

We saw some amazing shows…

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…looked fabulous…

(And for those of you that know me in person, you know that this can be a struggle for me. So many skirts and high heels.)

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…sometimes to the point of being amazing models.

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I just know that our modeling contracts are on the way as we speak. Type. Whatever.

We saw some amazing old friends.

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(Seriously, guys. I miss you all so much already.)

And before anyone asks, yes, there was yarn shopping. I may have dropped some cash at Habu Textiles and bought something awesome that I have no idea how to use. Stay tuned.

We ate a ridiculous amount of good food.

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So much food. There was definitely not enough photo-documentation of the food because I was busy putting it into my face. iPhone photos from my 365 Project caught a tiny bit of it.

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We met some famous people.

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We had some moments of quiet introspection.

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And we were completely unapologetic tourists the whole time, much to New York City’s chagrin, I’m sure.

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We did not want to leave.

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Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you, Jarrod. Thank you, New York City. Thank you, old and new friends. Even though I haven’t gotten quite started on it yet, I think that turning 30 is going to work out just fine.

Crazy Stuff! The Versatile Blogger Award!

My lovely blogging pal Karen, AKA the Sweaty Knitter, nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award, and I must say I’m a little flummoxed. I never know how to deal with these things, so I am just going to be a nice normal person, and say, “Thank you!” Karen’s blog is a wealth of knitting and textile information and history, and she has probably forgotten more about knitting than I will ever learn. She is awesome. Go read her blog. Right now.

The Versatile Blogger Award!

As per the rules, here’s 15 blogs that I recently discovered and massively enjoy (in no particular order) that I know you’ll love, too, accompanied by my short, silly descriptions:

1. the Breakfast Bachelor – adorable breakfast musings from a lovely Brooklyn kitchen
2. the Modern Home Economist – fabulous quilting, knitting, and baking from Australia
3. Sweet & Crumby – drool-inducing homey baking and photography
4. 101 Books – reading the greatest books ever written, with a light dose of snark
5. the Missing Needle – knitting and spinning and pretties
6. the Soulsby Farm – farming and chickens, all kinds of how-to when you’re just getting started on your own garden
7. Books & Bowel Movements – oodles of books, photos, and charm (full disclosure: Cassie is my totally awesome pen pal. More people should be pen pals with us. We are interested in a movement.)
8. domestic diva, m.d. – all the joys of a handcrafted life, plus stress and awesome med school stories
9. Sadie & Dasie – daily inspiration for things I didn’t know I needed
10. Photo Nature Blog – gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous
11. made by mike – jealousy-inspiring baking and photography, and honey-flavored ice cream, goddamit! (It looks so good, it makes me mad. Seriously.)
12. Acorn in the Kitchen – exotic cuisine and awesome inspirational videos about the process of handmaking your life
13. the Burlesque Baker – with a title like that, do I really need to explain?
14. the Yellow House – this blog will make you want to throw a barbeque every day
15. barefoot rooster – knitting and wonderful genuine everyday silliness

Go read them. Right now. I’ll wait.

Geez, I need to get reading some more blogs in case this happens again (ha!), because I’m sure no one needs me to link them to the Yarn Harlot or Bakerella. Give me more, people!

Anyway, to completely fulfill the Versatile Blogger rules, now I have to disclose 7 things about myself, probably that I haven’t already expressed recently on this blog. Deep breath. Here we go.

1. After watching The Avengers, I spent (wasted? nope!) an inordinately long amount of time looking at pictures of Tom Hiddleston online and sighing.

This is embarrassing already.

2. I love bunnies. In a serious fan-girl type of way, even though I’ve never owned one. This information causes people to give me lots of bunny-related paraphernalia — including stuffed animals, figurines, tins, cookie cutters, and a crazy-awesome painting that’s in my living room. I don’t think this will ever get out of hand enough for me. Just no live bunnies, please. My cat will try to eat them.

3. I am going to be thirty this year, and I still get super excited about my birthday. Not like I expect people to get me things or really do anything special or anything, but I just love telling people when my birthday is (June 21st. *ahem*) and getting simple birthday wishes. Facebook has taken this off the deep end for me. I am trying to see how this isn’t selfish and weird, but I really don’t care at the same time. Birthdays are awesome.

4. Dan and I live in the newly remodeled version of the childhood home in which I grew up. I will turn corners and enter rooms sometimes and still get a flash of what it used to look like instead of how it looks now. It’s an odd sensation.

5. I just bought Pixar stamps today to put on my pen pal letters. They make me happy just sitting here on my desk.

6. Speaking of making me happy, my 365 Project is still going strong, I’m just not doing weekly updates with commentary anymore. Trust me, though, it’s all still good. Lots of pictures of vegetables, knitting, and my cat, just like the usual on here anyway.

7. Revenge is totally my new favorite thing on TV, maybe ever. I might talk all high and mighty, but fabulous trashy revengey TV is awesome and will always be awesome. Nolan is my favorite character, of course. I wish I had been around to watch when Dynasty was really up and kicking. That would have been great.

And we’re done! Thanks for getting through that if you actually did. Understand that the writing process for this one involved a whole lot of me staring out into space and wondering what wouldn’t sound completely insane. Now go read those other blogs. You’ll be glad you did.

Curried Cauliflower & Chickpeas…not so intimidating after all

Vegetables can be intimidating.

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Especially when they are large and have been living happily in your backyard until you ripped them out of the ground. Also, especially when they don’t particularly look like what the grocery store tells you they are supposed to look like.

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However, upon further investigations (looking for two seconds on Google Images), our cauliflower seems fairly standard for home-grown, but it was quite bizarre to me at first. It’s almost like a coral formation. A delicious one.

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Now, what to do with all this cauliflower? The boyfriend is not terribly into the texture of cauliflower, and I can only eat crudité with dip for so long.

Solution? Indian food!

I have always loved curried cauliflower and chickpeas (I found a great recipe here on Epicurious), and this would be my first attempt at making curry from scratch, so we made sure to thoroughly document the process.

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Including my “opening cans” face.

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And my “sauteing onions” face, which actually looks a lot like my “concentrating on knitting” face. Which is kind of a bitchface, unfortunately. I often suffer from chronic bitchface, and people ask me if I’m okay a lot. I’m usually just fine, just bitchface-y. Or concentrating on something. For more information about this terrible affliction, click here and educate yourself.

Do it.

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However, my bitchfaciness tends to go away when I’m narrating everything that I’m doing in my best Mr. Lunt from Veggie Tales voice. (Do you seriously not know the cheeseburger song? Go and watch right now. Seriously. Your life will be better. Done? Good.) There is video that exists of this (and also of me singing “His Cheeseburger” and giving it all I’ve got), but I’m not quite ready for that kind of intimacy. Sorry, Internet.

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A picture that doesn’t involve my face! Here’s our cast of characters for curried cauliflower and chickpeas: cauliflower and chickpeas, of course, diced tomatoes with green chiles, coconut milk, and cilantro. Not pictured: lots o’ curry powder and the onions that were already sizzling away in the pan.

Pictured, but not an ingredient: A nice little drink of Bailey’s on ice for me to enjoy while cooking. Sipping on a drink while you’re cooking is a fabulous thing. Only one, though. Two drinks while I’m cooking, and I’d probably end up with second-degree burns and a kitchen floor full of curry. Especially if the Mr. Lunt voice is already in effect.

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Apparently we skipped a little bit ahead here and forgot to capture some actual cooking. This is when the coconut milk is going in, ready to let the mixture boil away and thicken up, and for that cauliflower to steam and become tender and wonderful.

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Bubbling away.

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Adding the cilantro after the simmering is done…

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…and stirring it in…

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…and finally delivering it to impatient, hungry mouths over some cooked brown rice.

I was super duper happy with the way this came out, and even though the recipe says that there’s only 4 servings there, with the amount of cauliflower that our garden delivered to us, we’re still eating leftovers for lunch days later. The only thing that I’d change would be to perhaps use only one can of tomatoes with the chiles and leave the other one plain. Although I really love Indian spice, that might have just pushed it over the edge a little too much. We want spiced, not crazy spicy.

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I think there’s some in my future for lunch today, in fact. Feel free to be jealous. I know I would be.