Knife choppin’

I really need to learn how to use a knife. I remember going to get one for Joe as a present and there was a knife guy in the store. He asked me to step up to the cutting board and try the knife out and it was super embarrassing. Apparently you need to stand a certain way. Right because my legs have to do with my hands, that makes sense. It’s just like sports with having to have the right form and shit. I don’t do “form”. I do things the Jess way.

I tried to cut a lemon to make flavored water. And, well, this is what I ended up with as trash:

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Im not sure how/why I wasted so much of it. Alls I know is you gotta cut the butts off! Hey, at least I used a serrated knife.

Onions are quite possibly the worst. I’m feeling all good about my cutting ability as I get it down to four pieces. Then it falls apart like a Jenga game. I also feel like I have to hold my breath while cutting it. As soon as I breathe, all hell breaks loose in my eyes, nose, and throat. I try all the silly tricks like putting a spoon in my mouth. I think next time I’ll wear goggles. Oh my eyes, they burn! I do find it fun when you get down to smaller pieces, you can just start chopping in every direction along the cutting board. But when you eat my food, you definitely are not going to get even pieces of onion in your dish. Srs I’m not srs.

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While we are on the topic of onions, can we discuss purchasing them for a moment? I am looking for a yellow onion in the store. Sure, my eyes see a yellow one. But yellow doesn’t always mean yellow, stranger things have happened. The sign says “onions sweet”. Oh, okay. THAT DOESN’T HELP ME. Is it white or yellow? Do I need it to be sweet? Is a yellow onion sweet? Is a white onion the same as a yellow onion then? I HAVE QUESTIONS PEOPLE.

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I’ve been seeing commercials for The Worst Cooks in America and I’ve come to find out that they’re doing a celebrity edition. This makes me feel better about not getting a call back *glare* BUT they are advertising not knowing how to use a knife. Me either dudes, me either. I’m not sure I would survive on that show simply because I can’t get the basics down. Oh the messes I have made.

I prefer to just break things apart, like these delicious Hello Kitty cookies. Break, bake, and go!

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I’m just going to become a shark and cut things with my teeth instead.

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The confused chicken

Excuse me if I am repeating myself, but I. do. not. understand. chicken. DO NOT.

I’m only a vegetarian by default and I am a pretty picky eater (as we know) so sometimes I need some good ol’ fashioned meat.

But I can never. get. it. right.

Problems:

  1. I don’t own a meat thermometer
  2. I once owned a meat thermometer, but it was either broken or I didn’t cook anything right
  3. The directions on the chicken say “from frozen, 375 for 35 min” – don’t you have to thaw chicken and THEN cook it like that?
  4. The directions on the shake n bake say “400 for 20 min”, but it says for pork. Then later on the package says “use pork, chicken or seafood”. Does this apply for chicken?
  5. I’ve been told that white chicken could mean it isn’t done yet, if it’s shiny
  6. What if the edges are pink?
  7. I’ve been told if you cut into it, it’s bad because reasons

So what in the hell am I supposed to do here? I am listening to all of the directions around me and still can’t get it right.

I try following the shake n bake directions and I get so worried when I pull it out of the oven. It is beautifully white, but tough to cut. My fellow chicken cooking texting friends tell me that I have over cooked it. WHY are the signs for under and over cooking the same?

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I understand it depends on the thickness of the meat for how long you cook it, so at least I have one thing going for me.

I also learned that if you put tin foil over it, it helps it to not dry out when you are potentially over cooking it.

But you know what I haven’t learned? How to cook chicken the right way. This is probably because I am used to it tasting dried out. Where da juicy chickens at?

Brb going to Crate & Barrel to buy a meat thermometer….or becoming vegan, one or the other…

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derp.

Hamburglers

Hamburgers. Meat pockets. Shredded brown bugs. Hamburglers. Stealing my sense of pride one crumble at a time.

My poor co-worker, maid of honor, lawyer and friend had to hear me ask 1,000 questions on how to make hamburgers.  I think I broke his brain with the weirdo questions I ask. How do you know when to flip it? How much oil do you put in the pan? What if it’s a non stick pan? What if it falls apart? What if I don’t mix it well enough? I just wish recipes answered the tough questions.

Apparently ground beef has some fraction number on it, who knew meat pickin’ involved math. I think this is the fat content? I still don’t understand, I just bought what I was told to buy. Why can’t they just write “fat or no fat” on it? Or something easier to understand.

We hosted some people over and I thought I would make hamburgers for the first time, if we all survived, than that means it was a great party!

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I was told to add egg, soy sauce, bread crumbs, salt and pepper to the ground beef mixture. Though I read online that you’re not supposed to handle the meat too much, don’t know what that was all about.

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I start stirring all of this stuff together with the meat in a giant bowl with a plastic spoon. Touching the meat from the packaging into the bowl was gross enough, I didn’t want to be tossing it around with my hands. But alas, you have to. Grossssssss. Such an odd texture and I’m not sure how you are supposed to mix it evenly with said texture.

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Then I try to form the patties with my hands, like the Internet says is so easy to do. I love how they give you measurements as if you’re using a ruler. Do they make those? Cooking rulers? I mean they make thermometers, they should make rulers too. I end up forming them like I do cookies, which is probably also incorrect. I make the bigger mistake of thinking the vegetarian could tell me if I was doing it right.

Joe’s mom comes over and I warn her that I probably messed it up badly. She has confidence in me, like she always does, but I’m tellin’ ya! She peels back the tin foil, covers it back up and starts to walk away. I ask her if it was right or not. So she points out what I could do better – the patties need to be bigger because they’re going to cook down, more round and more pressed together. I had cracks so the chunks of meat would just fall right off. Again, I was just thinking cookie slop – which usually gets bigger and stays together just fine.

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I didn’t do the cooking, that’s the scariest part. Joe’s mom made them lovely on the grill for all of us. And no one got sick or died, yay! Success!

On a personal note, this was a really exciting time to host family. Using our new gadgets that we got from our wedding – even though we don’t have enough/an even number of everything yet, we’re getting there! My favorite is these awesome W napkins my real maid of honor got us.

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As usual, judgement:

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Garlic Worms

One of the hardest parts about cooking is having the right amount of the ingredients and using them before they go bad.

Recipe says: 4 tomatoes, 3 cloves garlic, 1 cup basil, 1.5 pounds pasta, 3/4 cup olive oil, 1 pound brie = Tomato Basil Brie Linguine

I have: 4 tomatoes, 2 cloves garlic, a pinch of basil, 1 pound pasta, 2/3 cup olive oil, 1/2 pound brie = Garlic Worms

So this recipe will work, right?

I’m a huge fan of brie although that shit is expensive. I couldn’t even find a pound of it on the shelf for sale. Basil goes brown over night basically so that’s always a wash, as delicious as it is. Pasta is sold in pound boxes, I don’t know where they get this 1.5 pound idea from. But I can always count on tomatoes to be there for me, I sure don’t get why they gotta be on a vine though.

Since I had all these odd measurements, I thought I should lessen the garlic and olive oil too. Yet this still came out tasting like a pound of garlic. Linguine also looks like worms. Garlic worms. I am eating worms that taste like garlic.

You basically chop all this crap and set it on the counter for 2-4 hours.

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It says to dice the tomato, so that means I cut it up in the most irregular pieces possible.

Oh, then it says to tear the brie into irregular pieces. Finally something I know how to do! Until I realize they’re just playing a sick joke on me. Have you ever tried to tear cheese before? Tear sticky cheese. It’s just stuck to my hands! Thanks a lot, I bet the cookbook people are laughing.

And then my trusty friend the garlic press, we meet again… PS: why is the garlic purple?

Basil, you smell so delicious, I love you, why you gotta brown so easily?

It takes me at least an hour to chop all of this up, but it’s so pretty…

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Time to boil the pasta, can I break these noodles in half first? It doesn’t say to, so I won’t. Oh, the noodles stick out of the top of the water, real cool. Oh, they slipped down a second later, okay then. More noodle power to ya.

Now I have to mix it all together, as if that is an easy task. Why would you combine really long noodles with a mixture? How is it supposed to get in the cracks and spread evenly? This would have been better with bow ties. Does it even matter what type of pasta I use? I HAVE QUESTIONS! I wonder if there is a recipe hotline. 1-800-RECIPE-HLP

I’m really glad I didn’t use the 3 gloves of garlic because this tastes like a pile of garlic. Joe ain’t mad doe.

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And the cats are all like, facepalm. facebutt. faceplant. faceplace.   IMG_0955

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The Worst Cook in America

Getting married is awesome because you obtain a bunch of new kitchen supplies. Most of which I do not know how to use. But I will say that they make attempting to cook more enjoyable. I couldn’t tell you what half the nonsense was in Crate and Barrel where we did our registry. Do we need this? What is this? Why is it this shape? I guess we are going to find out in the coming months while we attempt to use these new fancy bojangles.

I watch a lot of Food Network, which doesn’t aid me in my cooking techniques at all, but hey it’s entertaining. One day I caught an episode of the show The Worst Cooks In America. I thought to myself, holy shit, I could be on this show! A show dedicated to not knowing what you’re doing? How perfect! Basically there are 2 teams that learn from famous chefs and you get sent home if you don’t measure up to the challenge.

I decided to go on their website and see what the auditioning process is like. Like most companies, their website lacked the content I was looking for. It had casting dates for the past, so I wasn’t sure if I could fill out the application at anytime – I emailed them these questions and never heard back. Until a few months later, I got a response that casting was open and they would be updating their site soon (yeah right).

I headed back over and filled out the lengthy application. Then I received an email asking me to fill out an attached questionnaire, a day later I received a reminder to fill it out. Girl, slow your roll, I’m gettin’ to it. It had the same damn questions. How many times can I answer “What is your most embarrassing kitchen story?”, “Do you have any kitchen phobias?” Honey, there are not enough lines on this application for me to fill out my probs.

I was walking around Home Depot one Saturday and received a phone call from Cali and normally I don’t answer strange phone numbers, but I had a feeling. It was a casting guy! Asking me the same damn questions again. He was super nice and I enjoyed the conversation. This was shortly after the Baltimore Riots, so of course I was asked about that too. He said if they chose to cast me, he would call in the next few weeks…never heard back. Bummer.

But I would like to think this means I made it to the final rounds of casting and I am a runner up to being The Worst Cook in America. 😉

To combat this horrible horrible loss, my matron of honor got me a book for our wedding titled “The I Don’t Know How To Cook Cookbook”. This book is ahhhmazing! It has the definitions for everything you could think of, even SPOON! It has little tid bits like how to brown ground beef. All sorts of things to answer my daily questions when recipes don’t explain things fully. It also has a lot of vegetarian recipes which is always ideal. Only thing it’s missing is pictures, ha.

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I don’t think I ever would have made it passed the first round on Worst Cooks… I can’t even use a knife properly.

Plus, I’d miss my cats if I was gone for a few weeks. Check out these rad pics my matron of honor’s husband took the day of our wedding…

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BBLK PHOTOGRAPHY

Tofu shakin’

A tofu press may look like a strange torture device, but it is actually a magical and wonderful device.

Its got many plastic pieces along with a spiraly metal piece. I would think this spiraly metal piece could be use to harm someone, but really it is just helping your tofu out.

Don’t know anything about tofu? Don’t know why you have to press it? Sucks to be you, you’re missing out.

Tofu wants to absorb the flavor you are trying to put into it, so let it do its job.

No matter what type of tofu you buy – soft, firm, etc. It is a good idea to press the water out of it first. We used to do this by stacking a bunch of random heavy kitchen appliances on top of it. But now we have this sweet press!

You drill the spiraly metal guy on top of the tofu and the pressure sucks the water out. The water builds up inside the little torture container and then you can dump it into the sink.

Unless you’re me.

If you’re me, you forget one of the plastic pieces and you end up drilling the spiraly metal guy into the tofu itself. It’s cool, now we have some design going here. I can never be left alone, I swear.IMG_0647

Now if you do it right, you let it press for a little bit. Then you can fill the container with a sauce of your choosing. You can then sit the container in the fridge for a half hour or over night, whatever your little heart desires. The more soakin’ time the more flavor savin’ slime.

If you do accidentally drill the spiraly guy into your tofu, don’t fret. Just keep on trucking. Don’t forget to cut the tofu before putting the sauce in. If you’re me, you can’t cut straight and end up with the oddest shapes of tofu. If you’re an adult, your tofu turns out beautiful.

I then preheat the oven to 350 and bake for 45 min. We’ve been using teriyaki lately and after pressing, soaking and baking, you get a good little crisp to the edges.

Don’t hate on tofu until you try making it yourself. A lot of the times people try it at restaurants where it is too squishy for them. There are many ways you can make it, but I find this to be the easiest.

Tofu shakin, all around, pump that jam, while I’m chown’ down.

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(PS: check out Flat Rat Studio for more cool signs like this one)

Make your own mac n cheese they says, it’ll be easy they says…

Happy New Year!

Last year I made some mac n cheese and while a lot of dumb happened, it tasted like a lot of good.

“Easy Southwest Mac N Cheese” – easy they says…

I look at the list of ingredients and the first thing I notice is that I don’t like half of them. But I like mac n cheese, so I guess this will end up good. One thing I am definitely omitting is the onions, onions are not mac nor cheese in my experience, so it’s gotta be ok. Everything else can stay, for now.

First I need a big ol’ pot for just the garlic. Why such a big pot for just garlic? Do I put the garlic in the nutcracker press? I’ve never not done that with garlic, is this supposed to be different? I swore I read it 5 times and saw nothing about that. Because I am home alone, I text my trusty side kick Jackie. She says “are you sure it doesn’t say mince somewhere?” Oh, sure enough, it does! I was also doubling the recipe so it becomes like 4 little nubbies of garlic, pressed (minced? same thing?) into the big ol’ pot. Seems like a lot. This part you are supposed to combine with an onion, but I say hell no to onions. The recipe says that they should be “soft and transparent”, so I’m waiting for the garlic to appear this way and it’s just turning brown. Guess that means I burned it. Can I still eat it? Did I ruin the whole thing? I don’t care, lettuce keep going.

Turns out the transparent thing was about the onions, not the garlic. Good to know, thanks a lot, not specific directions. Not to mention the directions say “saute”, excuse me? Come again? You could at least throw a link in there to explain what “saute” is. You know I don’t speak mexican!

Here the cats are, trying to escape in case I burn the house down…

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Next was easy: Drain the diced tomatoes, then add them to the pot with the frozen corn and chili powder. Continue to sauté until the corn has heated through. At this point I assume saute means just leave the burner on and stir. Why can’t we just say that instead? I also never trust recipes with spices, they always call for so little of the spice. What is the point if you’re only using a little bit? I say go big or go home. I might regret this shortly.

Turn the heat off and add the drained pasta and Greek yogurt. Oooooooh okay now I get why we are using sucha big pot. I don’t particularly like yogurt either, but I am trusting this recipe here.

Stir until the pasta is coated in the creamy sauce. Add the cheese and stir until the residual heat has melted it into the sauce. If you pasta has cooled too much to melt the cheese, keep the burner on low as you stir the cheese into the sauce. Didn’t have to worry about that last part, thank jeebus.

Serve hot sprinkled with the sliced green onions. Well, my green onions were a bit old. I sent a picture to my trusty side kick to see if I could still use them. Just had to cut some bad parts off. I didn’t realize that they needed to be chopped super fine, I had chopped them kind of big. I don’t particularly like green onions, but it probably made sense for this recipe.

All in all, it was actually very good! The burnt garlic didn’t ruin it, though I did use a lot because it was a bit spicy for me.

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