20 January 2012

Black bean and sweet potato tacos

It is amazing to me just how versatile the sweet potato is. I would never have pegged it for being a good taco-filling, or even for going well with black beans. But it is, and it does. Once again I will beg your forgiveness for the lack of a photo. While my taco turned out very deliciously, it wasn't really attractive enough for my to take a picture. (I used too big of a tortilla, and put in too much filling and ate it like a burrito, except with the filling falling out all over the place). Instead, I will have to refer you to this blog instead, and to her picture, because hers is excellent.

13 January 2012

Downton Abbey

A number of people have been asking me for the last few months if I'd seen Downton Abbey. And they all tell me that I'd love it. I mean, period BBC mini series? Starring Dan Stevens (Edward Ferris in Sense and Sensibility), Brendan Coyle (Nicholas Higgins in North and South), and Maggie Smith? How would I not love it? Somehow when someone told me it was a "period piece" I had assumed 19th century, perhaps because that is mostly what I watch, so I wasn't prepared for this show set on the eve of World War I. Nevertheless, I'm really quite enjoying it. I've been enjoying learning a tiny bit more about the upheaval between the classes that the war caused. And it reminds me of just how much I miss England. It's been over a year and a half since I've been, and it drives me mad. But, lest I digress. I really am impressed with Downton Abbey. The only grief I have with it is that I can't watch the next episode for two whole days, and after that I must wait an entire week. I don't know what I'm going to do with myself (other than perhaps actually getting things done).

Dan Stevens and Michelle Dockery

Brendan Coyle and Joanne Froggatt

11 January 2012

Zucchini Pizza

Normally I'm a pepperoni pizza person. Just plain old pepperoni (or occasionally Hawaiian), but this zucchini pizza is fantastic! One of my old roommates used to make it occasionally and it made the apartment smell so good. So today I tried it. And I tried a new crust recipe, which at least so far has passed muster. Admittedly, I didn't use goat's cheese, but that was more because it was too expensive to actually buy. But next time, I think I'll spend the extra money.

07 January 2012

Gingerbread houses

Ok, so I didn't really make a gingerbread house today, or even last week. But I did "make" some when I was home over Christmas, and now I'm posting about it.

My mom thought it would be a fun thing for my youngest brother and I do, to build this gingerbread village kit that she got somewhere. It was fun, but also incredibly difficult. It doesn't seem like it should be that hard, I mean it shouldn't be any hard than building with graham crackers, which we've all done before, but it was incredibly difficult. And so by the time we'd gotten them built we'd lost a lot of energy for decorating them. In fact, I bet you can't even tell which ones I decorated and which ones my nine year-old brother decorated.
 I'll give you a hint, I did the ones with white frosting.
So after we had decorated these, my brother came home from school, a couple days later, with a much cooler gingerbread house. (And it was a lot tastier too.)

06 January 2012


I mentioned in my last post that I was preparing for a new adventure while using up all my food. I guess I'll tell you a little about my new adventure before I talk about how I finished up my canned goods. I am once again packing up all my junk (which never fails to amaze me at how much of it there is) and moving. (no surprise there, huh?--when am I not about to move?) And since moving within the same city or the same state gets boring after a while (though I'm not actually bored of Maryland, I love it here) I've opted for a new state. Massachusetts here I come!

Now, on to canned goods. So what are Brigadeiros you ask? They are a phenomenally delicious Brazilian treat that I learned to make while living in England two summers ago.  Basically they are sweetened condensed milk and chocolate powder. You boil them together until it's thick enough to more or less hold its shape and then you make little balls. (I let it cool enough so it didn't burn my hands and that helped it to thicken even more.) You can roll the balls in something if you like, but you don't have to. I rolled some in cocoa powder and some in plain sugar just because I could. Or if you feel like rolling things into balls is too much work you don't have to cook the milk as long and it makes a pretty awesome sauce on things like ice cream (which is how I had it the first time). 

05 January 2012

Adventure: Boston

Seeing as I've been totally remiss in posting in the last year, it is entirely possible that you have no idea that I ever left Provo. Well, I did. I graduated, got a job, and moved to DC all at the beginning of 2011 (end of 2010). That said, I have since left my job, and am about to move to Boston. I have nothing against all those millions of people world-wide who got degrees and got jobs and started being real grown-up people. In fact, I admire them for it.  Nevertheless, I'm not ready to be a real adult yet, so I'm going back to school.

I'm going to be attending Simmons College. It's a small private women's university near Fenway Park (where oddly enough my program is co-ed).  I've been accepted to their Graduate School of Library and Information Science and I will spend the next two years working on my masters. More specifically, I'll be working on my MLIS with a specialty in Archival Management. In other words, I get to play with books everyday, OLD BOOKS. I can't think of anything better than to spend my life with books. I do love books. In fact, I love books so much that I want to tell you about the awesome purchase that I made a couple days ago.

I had taken some old books (read: out of date GRE manual and 6th edition MLA style guide) to a used bookstore to see if they might buy them. They didn't. They don't want them for the same reason I don't. They're out of date. But as if to try and appease me the man behind the counter invited me to browse the store and maybe purchase something instead (good salesman.) So I wandered around for a bit. It is a giant warehouse of a bookstore and the organization leaves your head spinning. There certainly was organization, but it wasn't intuitive, but it worked for the store because it put random books in your path you would never even think to look for. So I was wandering down some aisle looking for a book on book mending when I stumbled into the section with books on polar exploration (like I said, the organization made no sense).

Now, those of you who know me well, know that I have a soft spot in my heart for Antarctic explorers and that if I could have dinner with a famous person I'd eat with Sir Ernest Shackleton. So I was pretty excited about these polar books. Of course, I'd read several of them, and own a few, but I thought that the time was right to expand my knowledge base and so I picked up a book on Captain Scott's Last Expedition. And it was only $4. Yeah! And then, I spied something even better: The Crossing of Antarctica by Sir Vivian Fuchs and Sir Edmund Hillary (the first man to summit Mount Everest). The part that made this book even cooler than it merely being about the first successful trans-antarctic crossing were the two little words penciled in next to the price "1st ed". Of course I checked the copyright page, it's true. It's a first edition, though admittedly a first American edition, which implies that it was published in England first--which would make sense. Still. And it has it's dust jacket!! Maybe one day it'll be worth more than the $8.50 that it was priced at, or the $4.25 that I paid for it. (I spent ages trying to decide which book to get, and after I had decided I had to have them both and didn't care that I really shouldn't get either, I was pleased to discover that the bookstore was having a 50% off sale and so I only ended up spending about $6 on both books. Which made me feel much better.) I love Antarctica, and one day I will go there.

I guess now that I have rambled on about how excited I am to read new books about Antarctic exploration I will leave you and go pack some boxes for my impending move. I'm leaving in about 36 hours and have packed exactly 2/3 of one suitcase.

Reading Room at Boston Public Library

Potato Pot Pie

We're all agreed that chicken pot pie is pretty delicious, right?  I mean, flaky crust, chicken, peas and carrots, what's not to like? I'd have to say the thing I don't like about chicken pot pie is the purchasing of the chicken. Why does meat have to be so expensive anyways?

In preparation for a new adventure (more on that later), I've been trying to use up all my food. Always a challenge. So I found myself with a whole bag of peas, and a couple carrots, but no chicken. However, I did have a potato.  (I discovered a while back that potato does make a tolerable chicken-substitute in Indian food, which is how I came to the following conclusion.) Potato pot pie anyone?

I had decided that I wanted to make this pot pie before I went home to visit my family for Christmas, and since I knew my potato would suffer during my two-week absence I decided I'd be all prepared and chop it and the carrots up before I left and freeze them. You can buy frozen vegetables so I assumed this would work. I came home and pulled my frozen veggies out of the freezer to find that my potatoes had turned black. Thinking about it, I know that potatoes turn brown after you cut them much like apples do, so I figured there was nothing wrong with blackened potatoes. So I still used them. (but I also got another fresh potato and used that too.)

What I've since learned is that potatoes don't freeze. When they thawed they were kind of mushy, which was weird, and when they were cooked in the pie they didn't taste like potatoes. Basically, they didn't look like potatoes and didn't taste like potatoes, so what I really ended up with was a pea-pot pie. (I also used far too many peas to be proportionate--why not use the whole bag up at once?) The fresh potatoes did taste like potatoes and were really quite delicious. So I do think that potatoes can work in pot pies. Just not frozen ones. And really, after you pick out the blackened bits the whole pie still turned out ok--though I still wish I didn't have to eat it all week.

04 January 2012


As you may remember (or maybe not) I went to England two summers ago for a couple months (unfortunately I think there was only one post about it, sorry.) Anyways, while I was there I was assigned to attend the Portuguese branch for church. I don't really understand why since I don't actually speak Portuguese, but I'll serve where ever I'm asked to. So one Sunday one of the Brazilian families in the branch invited us (there were 5 of us from my program that attended that branch) over for dinner. Oh man, think traditional Brazilian barbecue, only better. The food was so good. And they made us the best dessert ever.

In Brazil, they have this kind of bon-bon called brigadeiros. They're made from sweetened condensed milk and nesquick, boiled till it's thick enough to make into balls. But before it's that thick it can be used as a sauce. Which is how it was served to me the first time I had it. It was a sauce over ice cream with little bits of kit-kat bars mixed in. Heaven in a glass.

One of the girls assigned to the Portuguese branch actually spoke Portuguese and had served her mission in Brazil. So she taught me how to make these brigadeiros. I've made it as a sauce a couple of times, but I've never had the time and energy to actually form it into little balls, until today.

I've had a can of sweetened condensed milk lying around my cupboard for months and months ear-marked especially for this recipe. And since I'm movingthis weekend it was finally time to use the can up (I hate moving food, it's so much extra work--though I'll move canned goods over things like pancake syrup any day). So while I'm enjoying being unemployed in DC this week I made brigadeiros. So good! I dare you to eat just one.