Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"Bring Me A Body Bag, Because I'm Gonna Die Happy*" Ravioli (Recipe)

Like my title?  I was waffling between the "bring the body bag" or maybe "Sign The DNR FIRST" Ravioli.  Either way -- wowza.

I asked my husband to buy a squash when he went to the store, and he came home with a butternut squash.  Big, beige, kind of shaped like a ... shoe? Or a lightbulb?  Anyway, it had a sticker on, and it read "butternut squash," so I knew what was going on there.

Then I googled "Butternut Squash Recipes," and found many soups.  Hm, thought I.  Soup?  I love pumpkin soup, so maybe....  But then I saw "Butternut Squash Ravioli in Sage Butter."  Tap. Tap. Tap.  Know what that is?  The sound of the nails on the coffin.  oh yeah.

I cut it in half (as suggested in recipes) longways, saw the seeds were there, and I scraped them out like you would with a pumpkin.  [I momentarily debated cleaning and roasting them, but dismissed the idea as difficult and annoying.]
Pulled out a big rectangular roasting pan.  Some of the recipes called for the squash halves to be placed in cut-side-down, some cut-side-up.  I did what any good Democrat would do:  one of each.  The one that was cut-side-up, I rubbed the cut side with some oil to prevent drying out.  Olive oil, since it was the first oil I found in the cabinet.

Into the squash-ful pan, I put enough water to fill to about an inch.  (Would have been easier to just say "an inch of water," but I'm going with it anyway.)

Put in a preheated 350F oven.  Most recipes suggested 30-50 minutes, so -- guess what I did?  You DO know me, don't you?

At 40 minutes, I pulled the pan out and forked it a few times (poked).  I am not gonna lie to you here.  It farted.  Seriously.  I poked the cut-side-down one and heard a distinct FlrRRRRrP! from the squash.

I know.

Well, one half was pretty forkable, and one was still a bit resilient, so I popped the pan back on in for another 10 or so minutes.  When I tried to flip the pieces over with my fork (no gas this time), they just kind of broke off of the fork, so they were definitely done.

I poured off the water (and pretty much dumped half of the squash into the (thankfully clean) sink -- so don't do like I did) and turned them both cut side up.  With a dishtowel, I held on to the halves and scooped out the innards.  This was easy-peasy.  Like buttah.  Actually, kind of like avocado in texture.  whatevs.

Now, I was also making soup, so half of the squash went into the soup (recipe someday soon), but the other half I tossed in a bowl and cooled in the fridge.

Next day, I made the BMABBBIGDH* Ravioli
It was insanely easy.  No, really -- it was.  I saw you just roll your eyes in a "I hate you, you Martha-Stewart -wanna-be beeyotch" way.  And really.  I did this in the 20 minutes between flute lessons.

Get a pot of water boiling

scoop maybe 1/2 cup of squash innards into a medium/small bowl.  (we're making just a few right now -- feel free to double, but you'll be sorry if you do because you'll eat them ALL and then will feel like a sow.  don't say I didn't try to stop you)
Scoop in 1/2 cup ricotta cheese.
Add maybe 1/4 cup of a good strong hard shredded cheese (for a sec, you thought I was talking dirty, didn't you?).  Like parmesan or Romano.  I used a great gouda, but it would have been better had the cheese been stronger.
Add a little salt, a bit more pepper than salt, and?
A pinch of nutmeg.  FROM AN ACTUAL NUTMEG.  You wanna feel like a foodie?  Get yourself some whole nutmegs.  Totally cheap!  They kind of look like big acorns.  You use your super awesome microplane grater OR just scrape a knife back and forth on it to make little nutmeg dust.  THIS WILL MAKE YOUR FRIENDS LOVE YOU MORE.

Mush your cheese/squash innards/spice mix up until nice and smooth.  Taste it.  Alter to taste.

Grab your EGGROLL or WONTON wrappers (I shoulda used fresh pasta sheets, but shut up.  I only had 20 minutes).  WET them entirely all over one side.  Then -- for eggroll wrappers, put 2 walnut-sized (or a bit smaller) blobs of the filling on the lower half of the wrapper (separated).  Fold the wrapper over to cover them.
Press gently around the blobs (I suggest starting from between them) to seal up.  If you should make a crack or something, wet that spot, wait a sec, then try to pinch it together. Cut them down the middle (on the sealed part between the blops) with a pizza cutter (separating the two ravioli).  Check the seals and press more if needed.

Drop them maybe 4 at a time into the boiling water.
Boil for about 3 minutes.  Stir them around just a bit so they don't get stuck. Scoop out with a slotted spoon. I laid mine on some paper towels, because?  BUTTER SAUCE.

In a little pan, heat some butter (or I guess olive oil) and some FRESH SAGE.  From your garden.  That stuff is easy to grow.  I actually drove my lawnmower over mine TWICE this summer (by accident) and it came back like the next day.  Plant some.
I used about 5 leaves of sage (more is better, I think), which I used my scissors on to make little bits.

Cook the butter/sage until it starts smelling insanely good and the butter begins to brown (a couple of minutes, tops).  Then just either plate up your raviolis and dump sauce on top, or do what I did and dump the raviolis into the pot with the butter and roll them around for a second.


And I TOLD you not to make so many.  Didn't I?  DIDN"T I?  Don't blame me.

Total time (including standing at the sink, snarfing them down) about 20 minutes.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Lentils: The Ugly Best Friend Of Cooking

I have a confession.

I love lentils.  I love love LOVE lentils.  Brown, greenish, red, yellow (especially yellow!), you name it. Haven't met a lentil I haven't liked.

HOWEVER, holy CRAP are they unattractive.  Every thing they are in looks like cat poo.,  Cat poo of different colors, to be sure, but cat poo all the same.  I am not a fan of cats. 

There are several stews I make that involve lentils, and I've never blogged about them, never taken their picture.  Why?  It's because of the ugly.  OK - once I did.  I took a picture, but I basically put a wig and sunglasses and a big hat on it.  First of all, I showed no "process" photos.  Then, at the end, I chopped some cilantro, some red bell peppers, and some tomatoes, sprinkled them atop the ugly lentil stew, and then put a glob of sour cream on it as well.  It was me trying to take the Ugly Girlfriend out to a good restaurant.  You do the best you can to disguise her, and even then, you take her to the 6 o'clock seating -- before all the cool people arrive.

How I wish I could share photos of my latest concoction, but I have Lentil Shame. 

Let me tell you, though.

I started with a big pot of water.  Into it I dumped the last of my cranberry beans (dried, maybe 2/3 cup), some black-eyed peas (a cup-ish), wheatberries (1/4 cup, dried), some quinoa (maybe 1/3 cup dried), and some lovely, ugly lentils.  Yellow.  A cup. 

It was a gorgeous pile of legume-bean-grain fabulousness.  Then I added chicken broth base (similar to bouillon, but better, and like FOUR TIMES as expensive), a cube of chipotle spice, and some fresh ground pepper.

Also? Two carrots, in big chunks, 2 celery ribs, also chunks, and 2 ginormous cloves of garlic from the farmer market.  I chopped up the stems of a big handful of cilantro and tossed them in, too.  I debated adding spinach, but decided against.  Too fussy.

Cookcookcook.  Mmmm.  Deeelish.

I had to add some more water as it cooked.
Finally?  I am TELLING you, it was awesome.  I then chopped the rest of the cilantro (maybe 3/4 cup) into the Ugli Stew.  Salt and pepper to taste.

It is wonderful.  It is healthy!  It is yummy and satisfying and tasty.  I top it with chopped raw veggies, sour cream, yogurt, or croutons. 

And it is frickin' ugly.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

New Word: "Grosstipation"

What, you may ask, is "grosstipation"?
It's when you get so grossed out by something that you can't ever imagine eating again. 

Today, I cleaned out my dishwasher.  I mean, cleaned CLEANED my dishwasher. 

To give you perspective, we've lived in this house for just over four years.  In that time, I didn't know that you could remove the black rubber seal around the door, the plastic cover to the filter, and the thingy that spins around on the bottom. 

Oh yes, you can.  So these things have been collecting goo all this time.  Now, I'd gone in with a paper towel now and then and wiped up obvious accumulations of slime, but ....

If you can afford to have somebody clean yours for you every year (or six months? every other week? I have no idea, actually), do it.  It's like making sausage:  nobody really wants to know the inner workings of the process.

You know the little grayish gelatinous goobers you sometimes find in the bottoms of coffee mugs in the dishwashers?  Tip of the iceberg, my friends.  Tip of the grosstastic, greasy, grubby, mysterious iceberg of filth.  Think chunks.  Chunks that fall into the steel sink with an audible "plop."  Some with more of a clunk. 

Every time I thought I was done, I'd turn something over and I'd realize that there were untapped wells of slime -- chunky or smooth, your choice.

Now that I'm done (oh, sweet JEEBUS, let me be done), I can't imagine eating.  Drinking.  Ever.  Please, make it stop.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Lazy-Girl SourDough Bread (recipe) IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT!


Can I just share my amazement? 

I have figured out Sourdough bread.  No, really!  I have!
Just like how I said that people have made bread for thousands of years without high IQs or schmancy equipment? 

Here's the scoop:
I thought my hubs wanted homemade pizza on Friday, so I started up a batch of dough (water, honey, flour, salt, olive oil, the usual) in the KitchenAid bowl that morning.  Come to think of it, I hadn't even bothered to turn on the K.A., I just smooshed it around with a spoon.  Since it was warm out and kind of buggy, I tossed a dishtowel over the bowl to keep out the fruitflies/mosquitoes/dogs. 

Well, that afternoon, he expressed his dismay at my plan, and said he was going to get KFC.  Whatever.  I shrugged, and promptly forgot about the dough.  It was wet and goopy (I had planned on adding more flour later), and it just sat there and bubbled.

The next morning, I saw the covered bowl and muttered, "Aww, crap.  Forgot to make the bread.  I'll have to clean out that bowl soon."  and I forgot about it again.  Until the next day, when I said pretty much exactly the same thing.  That afternoon, my hubs noticed it and asked me if I was planning on cleaning out the bowl soon, or was I making a sourdough starter?

! ? !

Wait.  What? 

I mumbled something about "getting to it eventually," and forgot about it again.
What I didn't realize is that HE thought I meant I was going to eventually get to MAKING SOURDOUGH bread!  So he mixed in a little more flour, some more water, made it into dinner roll sized balls, let them rise, and baked them!

VOILA!  Sourdough!  It was exactly, totally sourdough bread.  Like I'd done it on purpose.  It was soft inside, crackly on the outside, had just the right tang, and it toasted like it was MADE for it.  It was delicious.

The crucial part, I believe, was the covering it with a dishtowel, because without that, I would have been picking gnats out of the rolls, which is not appetizing. 

Can you BELIEVE this?  Sourdough bread is just regular bread that you were lazy about making. 


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Seven Things In My Head (September Edition)

1.  Holy frickin' JEEBUS, my allergies are bad.  Farking ragweed. 

2:  Now that my kids are back in school, I find myself still in "emergency nap" mode, where if I find myself alone at home during the day, I really REALLY want to go take a nap.  And I do.

3:  I have lost my cooking mojo.  I just don't want to cook.  How is this possible?  Nope.  That has just gone all gray and flat and lifeless.  It'll come back, I know.  Eventually. But mentally, I'm in a Ramen Noodle frame of mind.

4:  I've been having finger twitches.  The muscles in my forearms are unaccustomed to 3-5 hours of playing a day that they have gotten this week (since I've gone back to teaching after summer break).

5:  I want to get contact lenses again.  I just don't enjoy the transition period that always seems to  happen.  I just don't have the patience I once did for discomfort of any kind.  Especially when it's from something as vain as contacts.

6:  I wonder how long until the first Michigan snow.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


My little son is 7, and he's just full to the brim of questions and peculiar statements.

"What I learned today about Llamas and alpacas (we had just gone to Lamafest at our local university):
A "reserve" champion is in second place, they use only one "l" when they are talking about both llamas and alpacas, AND... don't leave chocolate in your pants pocket."

"Mama?  Does light get MADE?  And does ENERGY get MADE?  Can it get UNMADE?  Do light particles go right through you?  What about energy particles?"

Mama?  Why was Confucius so famous?

Mama? Why don't they make a drink that is "Hi-D" too? (he had just had a drink of Hi-C)