Saturday, January 30, 2010

the cake

Every year I ask Edwin what kind of cake he wants. His mom always made him strawberry cake with chocolate icing, but I usually make a different kind each year. I've done ice cream pie two years in a row (with different flavors both times), blueberry pound cake, and now carrot cake.

I used to not like carrot cake.

Check that. I used to like carrot cake, but only part of it. I used to only eat the cream cheese icing off the outside of the cake.

I eat all of it now. There are actually a lot of things I wouldn't eat when I was little. I was the pickiest eater in the world until I was about 17. My family was so proud when I started eating foods other than ones that are white or yellow.

But back to the cake.

This is my Aunt Jeanne's recipe, and everyone on the Mize side loves this cake. I actually have two copies of the recipe, it's that good. For my bridal shower, my friend Charlotte had everyone submit a recipe and she compiled them for me. My aunt sent this one, and then my cousin Kristin shared it as well, citing Aunt Jeanne in the note at the top.

Here it is:

2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 LB bag grated carrots

Mix dry ingredients. Add oil, eggs, and carrots.

Pour into 2 greased round 9 inch cake pans. Bake at 350 30-40 minutes.

Let cool. Spread with cream cheese icing when cool.

And here's the cake!

I hope you like it. I made it.

Happy Birthday, EDW!

EDW is not my husband's monogram. When we were in grad school, the library students played on an intramural team called the Dewey Decimators. My friend Lindsey and I were the cheerleaders, and Edwin's cheer was just a chant spelling his name. E-D-W-I-N! There were some arm movements involved. Anyway, I like abreves (abbreviations) and EDW just stuck.

So happy birthday, EDW!

For his birthday meal, Edwin requested pulled pork (that's barbeque if you're from NC) and fixins for dinner and carrot cake for dessert. Here's the barbeque recipe I used: crockpot carolina barbeque.

I found it on the internet. I wish I could say I used an advanced librarian way to search for it, but I googled it. I've made crockpot barbeque before, but not with this recipe. I followed it almost exactly, except I don't have smoked paprika so I used regular.

My in-laws and grandparents-in-law were supposed to join us this weekend, but the snow forced them to cancel their trip. I went ahead and made the big meal, because it's still a celebration. Of Edwin! (Throughout our engagement, I proclaimed at regular intervals: "We're getting married! To each other!" And then at my bachelorette party, I kept declaring this: "I'm getting married! To Edwin!")

Luckily our friends Carla and Claude were available so they came over to celebrate. Here they are:
So. The menu:

Crockpot Barbeque.
We like Maurice's sauce for our barbeque. It's yellow and delicious and comes from Columbia, SC. I haven't actually been to a Maurice's, but my sister says it is sketchy and amazingly delicious. I buy the sauce at our Ingle's grocery store.
For the slaw I use the prepackaged broccoli slaw vegetables in a bag from the refrigerated section and Marzetti dressing.

I have made Sara Foster's slaw dressing before and it is great, but I was already making a lot of other things from scratch. Slaw isn't a big deal to me so I don't care if it's from scratch.

Sara Foster's Black-eyed Pea Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese.***
Oh, this is good. This is very, very good. Unless your name is Emmel and you hate gourds.

Sara Foster recommends serving it with something simple like grilled chicken, but I love love love it with barbeque. It makes the whole meal seem fancier (so does serving it on your wedding china).

Lima beans.
Because it's not a meal unless there is something green involved.

I hope you like it. I made it.

***Foster, Sara. Fresh Every Day: More Great Recipes from Foster's Market. "Black-Eyed Pea Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese." p 81

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

new digs

Edwin and I moved last weekend, from Andrews to Murphy. While our time in Andrews was swell, we're excited to be in the big city-- the county seat!

The front door to the house opens into the great room. I've designated different areas as corners with purpose: we have the dining corner, the living corner and the kitchen corner. I'll show you pictures of our other corners and rooms once everything is ready, but the kitchen has been fixed for days. It's my favorite spot.

My cookbooks. I'll do a blog about the ones I use one of these days. Also, cat food for Atticus.

This kitchen doesn't have a pantry, but the island has deep drawers for storage.

Here's my baking drawer:

And my cooking drawer:

And my oil drawer:

And my snack drawer:

And the best? My spice drawer:

The oven, stove, and microwave. Where I make crackos, chilichilibangbang, and carrot cake (coming soon).

Here's the sink area, where Edwin does the washing and rinsing of things for the dishwasher (house rule: you cook, you don't have to clean).

I put these little knick-knacks over the sink (which has a garbage disposal-- love it!). They are our lil homies, from the quarter machines at Mexican restaurants (featured are stand-there homie, emcee homie, and dice throwing homie-- meth lab homie is somewhere in Edwin's car); an Irish wishing stone; a rock with something fancy in it my mother-in-law found on a hike around our old place; a lucky buckeye from my sister, and a conch shell from the Camino de Santiago (I'm hoping the peregrinos still find their way without one missing marker).

You can see my car out front because we park right in front of the porch. It doesn't really detract from our view, since the porch around the back is the one we'll use more often. That one overlooks woods.

And that's my kitchen. I hope you like it. I made it. (sort of)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Not so fancy, but quite delicious. I bring you: CRACKOS!

I lived by myself in Durham for the first year of grad school. I spent my time going to Target, reading children's lit, and well, not cooking. One of my favorite things to not-cook is nachos in the microwave. You know you've tried it: tostitos on a plate with cheese on top; melt in the micro; enjoy.

One day I was needing something to go along with my stand-up-over-the-sink-dinner of spinach and goat cheese salad, and I really had a hankering for nachos. There was only one problem: no tostitos in the pantry. I did, however, have crackers.

I took one of the only chances I have ever taken in the kitchen (remember: I follow recipes and measure everything), and made something up. I sprinkled some cheese on the crackers, put them in the microwave, and voila! Crackos!

When my sister was visiting a few weekends ago we were talking about how far I've come in my culinary pursuits. After fondly reminiscing about crackos, we decided to whip up a batch.

We made them 3 nights in a row as an appetizer until the cheese ran out.

Here's what to do:

Put crackers (any kind will work; we used triscuits this time) on a plate. Cover with cheese.

I've been on this anti-orange cheese kick lately. I figure, milk isn't orange, so why should my cheese be orange? This is white cheddar.

Microwave for about 15 seconds, but watch to make sure the cheese doesn't get too bubbly.

Remove from microwave and enjoy.

I hope you like it. I made it.

Friday, January 8, 2010


I fibbed a bit in my last post when I said I didn't cook before moving to Andrews. My college roommate (we'll call her Mandikins) and I went through a phase junior year when we cooked for her brother and his roommate on Monday nights. The only things I remember making were fajitas (from a box), stir-fry, and chili. I had a name for each dish, and I would post it on my AIM away message as we cooked.

Fajitas: Fajita Fiesta!

Stir-fry: Wok and Roll! (This dish also had a catchy song to go with it)

Chili: Chilichilibangbang!

You'll note that each meal was accompanied by the exclamation point. It was an important feature.

So Mandikins and I made chili sometimes. I'm not sure about the recipe we used, but it wasn't as good as this one I make now: Sara Foster's Beef and Bean Chili***. I love Sara Foster. I love Foster's market. I love Sara Foster's cookbooks. And I LOVE this chili. It's spicy (but not too spicy) and flavorful (can something even be too flavorful?).

Maybe it's the 1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce you put in. Maybe it's the 4 jalepeño peppers. Maybe it's the basil. Something about the combination of all the ingredients is just divine.

If chili could be fancy, it would be this chili.

I won't share the entire recipe with you because I want to adhere to copyright laws. I am, after all, an information professional. What you should do is go to your library and request this book. Or buy it. Amazing!

What I did do different, though, is I used 4 cups beef broth instead of the recommended 6. And my grocery store was out of red peppers, so I used green. And I always buy really lean ground beef, even though I know you're supposed to use fattier chuck for chili and burgers. I just don't.

I tried not to feel bad about the fact that Sara Foster writes about how her mom taught her to make this in high school, and it's "the first thing I remember learning how to cook." I try not to feel bad, because this was, to me, one of my advanced recipes from last year. It involves coring and seeding a jalapeno pepper (run a spoon down the inside, I learned) and a lot of chopping. Chopping and dicing means advanced.

It's really really good. Edwin loves it. I love it. I made it for our friends Carla and Claude a couple months ago. I think they loved it.

I hope you like it. I made it.

***Foster, Sara. Fresh Every Day: More Great Recipes from Foster's Market. "Beef and Bean Chili." p 54.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

So this is the new year

Hello and welcome to yet another food blog! Here's how it started:

My husband, Edwin, and I moved to western North Carolina in June 2008 after we finished graduate school at UNC-Chapel Hill. We're both librarians. It's adorable (and not uncommon: library school has fostered many a romance, including my marriage and 2 more weddings). Who knew cataloging could kindle such sparks?

So. Edwin and I moved to Cherokee county (where Cherokee, NC, along with its casinos, is not actually located) to be professionals. He's the branch manager of a small town library, and I'm the Youth Services Librarian for the region. We moved, along with our cat and masters degrees, to a house in the woods. Though we owned plenty of kitchen supplies, they hadn't been used for much more than tacos from a box mix and spaghetti with jar sauce.

I didn't cook. At all. Why would I need to? Having lived in the Raleigh/Durham area all my life, I was surrounded by good restaurants (not to mention the 2 year stint sharing an apartment with my sister in which she cooked all my meals). When we moved to Andrews, though, the food chain sort of morphed. Instead of a nearby buy one roll-get one roll free sushi restaurant, we had a trout farm. While I was used to Whole Foods hot bars, we found Elsie's Restaurant, which didn't exactly have the variety of organic goodies I hoped for. It quickly became obvious that one of us needed to learn to cook. Fast.

Let me be very clear about something before I go on. I hated cooking. I hated the grocery store. I hated chopping. Doing anything other than boiling something made me nervous.

But we needed to eat. You can only have so many Old El Paso taco mix meals in a month, and Amy's frozen meals are expensive (and high in sodium). So I learned. Slowly. I spilled a lot of food on the floor, burned my arm, and cut myself more than I'd like to admit. As I got going, though, I began to enjoy the process. My first cooking love? Marinades. Who knew that tossing* together some simple ingredients and giving some meat a little soak could produce such results?

*I don't actually toss. I measure. Everything. Always. I can't guess at anything.

The first time I roasted a chicken I thought I might vomit during the prep. I'm sorry, but sticking my hand up a slick bird and pulling out the innards is terrifying. And gross. I chanted a little as I pulled: "This is for my family. My family. It's for my family." And I got through it.

It still grosses me out, though. Don't think it's not gross. It is.

But the chicken! The finished chicken! I was talking to my friend Ashley as it cooked, and I felt so proud when I told her what I was making for dinner. Over the months, I made countless meals for my husband and me, and once I made some friends in Andrews, I made meals for them, too.

2009 brought my first cooking resolution: to make at least one new recipe a week. And I actually did it. It was the first resolution I saw through to the end. I even made Thanksgiving dinner for my in-laws (and I didn't have to pull anything out of the bird! The butcher did it for me!).

So this year's resolution? To make a cooking blog.

I'll update at least once a week, and I'll tell you about how I spilled a beautifully chopped onion (learn how here) on the floor right before we had company or how Edwin had to give my nose a milk bath after a fight I had with a jalepeño. I won't be as entertaining as Ree Drummond or as charming as Julie from Julie and Julia, but I'll satisfy my friend Emmel's pestering (she really wanted me to start a blog).

I hope you like it. I made it.