Ecuador! Brooklyn! Okra!

One of the only things I missed about America was my kitchen. Not that I didn’t cook up a storm with my comrades in Ecuador, but I hated not having all my own pots and ladles and spices. Most of all, not having an oven. I know, horrifying to even think about.

Despite all the hardships, I did manage to whip up some delicious mora jam, bake cinnamon rolls with panela, and teach my amigo mejor how to create basic rolls. My baking projects where few and far between though, and I was itching to get back and make something in the kitchen. All I needed was a little inspiration to get back into my groove, and it came on Tuesday when I worked Brooklyn Uncorked. My amazing friend Sunshine is just starting up CAKEette, a dessert service inspired by 1940s cigarette girls, and I was lucky enough to be one for the night! I’m really looking forward to watching her progress; I think it’s a genius idea.

After an amazing night of local food and wine, I was totally swept back up into the romance of creating any-and-all-things edible. Last night I had pan-fried salmon, creamy mashed potatoes, and fresh, local asparagus. It was quick and easy, but probably the best thing I’ve cooked since I got home last week. I also decided to end the night by baking my first loaf of artisan bread, which is delightful and beautiful, but basic and not really worth documenting on here. Next time.

The original point of this post, however, was to let you all know I finally tried pickling okra! After receiving a request for some (before I left the country) I had done a little online reading on the subject, but that’s about it. But after I snagged some pickled okra from Rick’s Picks on Tuesday, it was over. I had to do it. So, I did.

I’ll let you know how they turned out. I went a little crazy on the spice. I can already tell I made some other rookie mistakes, but hey, you gotta start somewhere. More detail next time, when I finally get the hang of this pickling thing. Maybe I should actually try some basic (cucumber) pickles next time.

This post was supposed to be all about the okra, but I guess the real moral is, I’m back in action, and I love food more than ever! Be prepared for an onslaught of crazy goodness in the coming weeks.

Impromptu beef stew!

Today is Monday. I think my Mondays are pretty relaxed compared to the average American experience. I woke up, threw on an adorable wool dress (why did those ever go out of style?!), rode my bicycle to the subway, caught up on the Brothers Karamazov, and spent the early morning hours churning out cupcakes. Today just about felt like spring, and our shop door stayed open all day… I had to keep resisting the urge to run outside. I eventually got to, and went out to get ingredients for making deodorant (more on that later). At some point while I was browsing, I saw some delicious looking stew meat and got an irresistible urge to use it. So I did!

Also, quick note, I probably only use measurements half the time.

Blame my Italian nanny.

I coated the bottom of a large pot with olive oil, and added

  • stew meat (in this case, beef)
  • salt and pepper
  • basil
  • thyme
  • fresh parsley
  • garlic (I only had 2 cloves, but I wanted 10)

I sauteed until the meat was browned, then added

  • vegetable broth
  • some beef stock
  • fresh rosemary
  • sugar (about 2 tb.)
  • several splashes of Worcestershire Sauce
  • a veggie bouillon cube

Next, I chopped

  • 1 yellow onion
  • 5 russet potatoes
  • carrots
  • celery

and let it all simmer in a pot with a ton of butter and a million spices (salt, pepper, thyme, parsley, basil, dried bay leaf, celery salt, etc.) for about 20 minutes until it was golden, then I added it all to the stew and let it all cook together for about an hour. Once the veggies were all nice and soft and the beef was tender enough, and I’d added way too much salt, I whisked in a small amount of flour to thicken it, and enjoyed with a slice of homemade bread!

Perfect thrown-together meal! And I’ve got plenty to last for the rest of the week. =)