Hot plate hot problems

I don’t really know what the title of this post means. I only have a hot plate in my kitchen here, so I am going to be experimenting with Hot Plate Cooking. I haven’t even made the dish in question yet, so maybe it will be fantastic. Haaahahaha it will not.

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This picture has nothing to do with the post, I just like it. It’s from the Osh Bazaar.

Today I discovered a horrible truth: there are apartment-hunting websites far, far, far, far, far worse than Craigslist out there. Like, I am sitting here actively thinking I WISH THERE WERE CRAIGSLIST IN BISHKEK. This seems like a very bad sign just about life in general. (The ads here either don’t tell you where the apartment is or who the roommates are, or they want a girl who will pay no rent in exchange for making borsht.) Continue reading

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Very quick lunch suggestion

Drain a can of chickpeas; add one cup of chicken broth (or half a bouillon cube—MY LAST ONE, hallelujah—and a cup of water). Simmer. Add dried basil, dried rosemary, a squirt of lemon juice, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and… A PARMESAN RIND. Mine was frozen. Now it’s melting, sending cheesy strings into the broth.

It smells unbelievably wonderful.

It will go over rice (mine’s been in the fridge for a few days, which is why I wanted my chickpeas to be brothy) and be eaten for lunch. (I’m getting only two servings out of this, but I’ve been very hungry lately.)

This photo is cooking-instructional only and is not intended as art.

For no particular reason, here is a photograph I took of a wall of graffiti in East Harlem.

Good night.

This tastes less like Golden Garden than I wish it did.

Golden Garden is your average Chinese-American takeout place in my town on Long Island. I am in constant need of an exact replica of their spicy broccoli in garlic sauce, and this recipe is another attempt to imitate it. I more or less lived on that stuff when I was vegetarian, and have very distinct memories of reading the fifth Harry Potter while eating it. Actually I’m not sure why I was ever able to eat it again after that experience. Those emotional wounds have not yet healed.

Anyway, tonight I made spicy broccoli. Recipe courtesy of Macheesmo (excellent blog name), who adapted it from Cook’s Illustrated, which is always a good sign. The produce-scale in my grocery store has been broken for weeks, so I couldn’t weigh my broccoli, and ended up not buying enough. I did try to weigh it by comparing it to a conveniently labeled hunk of kabocha squash, but then I didn’t feel like adding more broccoli to my broccoli bag even though I clearly didn’t have enough. So I approximately two-thirded the recipe in the end.

This is the size of my broccoli-crown pieces. I like very small, soft broccoli bits.

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Israeli couscous with eggplant and tomato

Here is the very belated second post of the week. While I am writing this, I still haven’t tasted it because of hopefully unfounded stomach fears… but I’ll have some soon and let you know. It smelled and looked amazing, so I think it will be fine.

I had been meaning to make this for several years, but never got around to it, even after Jacqui found and bought me some whole-wheat Israeli couscous (for less than like $8/lb, which is what Fairway sells it for, blehhh).

I don’t know if it’s because this happened so long ago or because it was really easy, but I can’t think of a whole lot to say about this. It was easy.

I take a LOT of pictures of steam by accident.

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Seasonally incorrect pasta

I have been cooking and blogging THE ENTIRE DAY. Every post from this week was written TODAY. (Sunday.) I did not kickbox, see my bros, or really go outside (except for a fancy-grocery-store run in flip flops, during which I got wet and very cold. It was raining all day and it was nasty and horrible). I’m finally up to dinner. But I had this plan to make Swiss chard and radicchio pasta with chicken and cheese (the first title for this blog, long before I started it, was “Pasta with shit in it”), and then I looked at the weather forecast for the week and it was ridiculously hot all week. I was like nOOOOOO I CAN’T HANDLE THIS I HATE THE HEAT MY AIR CONDITIONER IS NOT INSTALLED I HAVE TO MOVE ALL MY FURNITURE ALSDKGHOIH;ER I FASLDFJ also, I had been cooking and blogging all day, did I mention that?

But I had no other options, so even though this pasta thing is definitely not even remotely appropriate for warm weather, I decided to make it anyway. I figured if I added lots of red pepper flakes and not too much cheese, it might be OK. I don’t really believe this, but we’ll see. (A few weeks ago I read a blog post that was like, “It’s getting warm, and I’ve started craving salads!” I was like, screw that, it’s getting warm and I still crave lasagna.)

This is a pasta of my own invention, born of the fact that I had a head of radicchio in my fridge. I decided to get Swiss chard as well, just because; I was going to add chickpeas, but I have stopped liking chickpeas and have been having meat cravings. Since I never crave meat, I decided I am probably anemic or something and should eat as much meat as possible. Yum. So I am having chicken, and it’s relatively happy.

I washed/chopped the radicchio and Swiss chard, and sauteéd them with olive oil. After they wilted a bunch, I added a lot of garlic (two spoonfuls of the pre-chopped stuff, probably about four cloves… no, maybe more), salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes, as per my usual. They’re actually now just sitting in the pan by themselves, without the heat, since they seem to be done.

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Crabby broccoli soup

There is no crab in this soup. I was just in an extremely bad mood when I made it.

I recently got an immersion blender, in the unfortunately-named color Dark Yellow, and wanted to make cream of broccoli soup. I couldn’t find a non-boring-looking recipe, so I minorly adapted this broccoli-cheddar soup from The Kitchn.

It involved cleaning leeks. Cleaning leeks is a kitchen thing I actually know how to do. Leeks are insanely dirty—you’ll find dirt within all the layers deep inside—so what you’re supposed to do is cut them longitudinally into quarters (not all the way!!) and then swish them around in a big bowl of water. I just splayed them out under the faucet and tried to get most of the dirt out. I did not entirely succeed, but I also did not care, because I was in a horrible mood.

Sorry this photo is so horrible.

Sorry this photo is so horrible.

Leeks make me wish I knew how to take photographs.

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The leeks softened in oil in a big pot, and then I added the vegetable broth and diced, peeled Yukon Gold potato (because they are waxy and thus, I think, better for soup—unlike Idahos or russets or whatever—the normal brown ones). While this was all going on, I put my broccoli in my two pans (one roasting pan/lasagna pan? I call it a lasagna pan) and one brownie pan (9×9). I had already cut it into those pretty floret things. At this point I tried to pour olive oil over them evenly, but did not succeed, so after sprinkling them with salt I mixed everything together with my hands. This was very enjoyable, so I did it too exuberantly and some broccoli fell into the Mouse Danger Zone, the giant gap between the oven and the sink/cabinet structure. (Mouse Danger is no joke. I did not enjoy fishing out the broccoli.)

This is by far the most exciting photo ever taken.

This is by far the most exciting photo ever taken.

The broccoli roasted for about fifteen minutes—I mixed it once or twice, ineffectively, with a wooden spoon—while the vegetable broth was coming to a boil. I then added the broccoli to the boiling soup, and did not take a picture because things looked pretty disgusting. Then I whipped out my extremely handy immersion blender… and blended. This went well until the end, when I had a perfectly creamy, blended soup except for some giant broccoli stalks that WOULD NOT BLEND. It was freaky. I kept locating them and then putting the immersion blender directly on top of them; this made a surprising and ominous sound, but did not blend anything. Eventually I just took them out, diced them, and returned them to the pot for some not-particularly-desired texture. I also added the cheddar cheese—I didn’t have a cup, I don’t think; I just grated and added the rest of my block of cheddar cheese. It looked like maybe 1/2 to 3/4 cup. It melted in.

I then finally tasted things. (I am bad at remembering to taste things until it’s too late.) It was decent, but bland-ish; I added lemon juice, some glugs of milk for creaminess, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes (I LOVE red pepper flakes and add them to everything).

Highly mysterious broccoli soup.

Highly mysterious broccoli soup.

Then I crabbily washed the dishes, because the dish I wanted to store the soup in was dirty.

Anyway, I had it for lunch today. It was actually much better than it had been yesterday, or I was just hungrier. It was good. Not the greatest soup of all time, but very good. And warm. Then it, or something, gave me a stomachache. But I believe this is a personal problem and not related to the soup.

The end.