From cat mom to plant mom

Hello 2017!

First let me apologize for my long hiatus. I admittedly was doing nothing but sleeping, cooking, cuddling dogs, watching The Office, and in the last week, starting my last semester at MU.

I know I said that significant changes are coming to this site, but you’ll have to wait a bit longer for those as I’ve spent a considerable amount of time futzing around on WordPress and Photoshop to get a little #branding going here but it’s pretty frustrating so this site is still semi-under construction.

I’m sliding into a pretty big year, given that in four short months my parents will be shoving me off the payroll and *fingers crossed* Mizzou will be handing me a couple diplomas.

The biggest change so far in 2017 was that fact that I wasn’t able to bring my cat, Bink, back to Columbia with me because my landlord found “evidence” of him and yeah that was 100 percent prohibited in my lease L

To fill the void, I’m putting all of my motherly energy into a new project: herbs.

At this point I will remind everyone that I know I’m a huge nerd.

One of the most irritating things about cooking for one is that when you buy fresh herbs, it’s virtually impossible to use all of them before they wilt and become unusable. I know that the internet will tell you to freeze unused herbs in olive oil but frankly I think that completely defeats the purpose of fresh herbs.

When I got back into my apartment last week, I cleaned out the fridge so I could feel worthy of going to the grocery store. I splurged at my local Hy-Vee and got both cilantro and basil, aka I’m living large.

I trimmed the ends of one stem of basil and about 10 stems of cilantro and then placed them into their own very classy cups with some water and covered them with a plastic bag, as you can see below:

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Ideally in the next week or so they’ll sprout some roots and I can plant them in some soil. Stay tuned!

 

 

New year, new kookie?

Hi readers! I know I haven’t posted in a while, but in 2017 I’m hoping to ramp up this blog.

I’ve spent a lot of time this break looking through new WordPress themes, thinking about a logo (#branding) and trying to decide what I want the site to look like as a whole as I jump into a new year.

I picked the name “kookie” because I think it pretty accurately describes me, I’m pretty odd. But after running this blog for nearly 18 months, I’m wondering how well that name really fits.

In the next few weeks, I hope to unveil a new and improved blog site, and I need your help! What do you think this blog should be called? Below are some of the names I’ve come up with:

kookie

chef meegs

meg’s eggs

cat lady kitchen

Please vote for your favorite with this link or in the comments!

The End

It’s December, which means a lot of things are ending. 2016, my final Fall in college, my classes.

This right here is my last blog post for 4806. Unfortunately, classes like Mobile App Development and Multimedia Planning and Design have me all too busy to crank out a high-quality post (and to cook, honestly).

So instead of taking the time to read a post from me, go ahead and take this quiz:

This Food Quiz Will Predict Your 2017 Future

My result:

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I’m planning to continue this blog without academic compensation, so if you keep up, maybe you’ll find out who that person is…

Countdown to Christmas

The second Thanksgiving leftovers are put away, I embrace the holiday season. I love everything about Christmastime, from picking out the tree to baking cookies from old family recipes to twinkling houses to the unmistakeable smell of spruce and cinnamon that only belongs in the air during this time of year.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed how much time goes into creating that smell, stringing those lights, dressing that tree and baking those cookies. I have the utmost respect for my mom for taking the time each year of my childhood to create Christmas magic out of the boxes in the attic. I also don’t blame her for not wanting to do it anymore.

The weeks before Christmas are magical…except when it comes to the hallowed halls of America’s universities. I’m sprinting toward the end of a busy semester with very little time for Christmas fun, with the exception of Starbuck’s holiday menu, of course.

This weekend, however, I put away my laptop and pulled out a Wal Mart gingerbread house kit. Here’s the spirited home I wish I had time to decorate in real life:

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*Note: there is a considerable amount of hot glue in this house and also the candy was pretty gross so hopefully no one will be eating it.

Thanksgiving 2016 pt.1

I woke up the morning after Thanksgiving with a pulled muscle in my right hand. Now that may sound like a nuisance at first, but think of the consequences. My right hand is my texting hand. My right hand is my cocktail holding hand. And perhaps most importantly and relevantly, my right hand is my cooking hand.

This isn’t surprising given that Thanksgiving was a marathon. Ordinarily it’s eight straight hours of intense cooking, but this year I decided to kick it up a notch by learning the family turkey trade and by checking out some video equipment from the lab.

The day started with me plopping our 21 lb turkey in the sink to rinse off the dry brine I had administered a few days prior. I then had to negotiate the turkey out of the sink and onto a roasting rack where it could be properly buttered, herbed, stuffed with soggy bread, and trussed. No worries, I got the majority of the ordeal on video.

Once the turkey was safely in the 325-degree oven, it was pie time. My sister took on the aesthetic components while I made the pumpkin and pecan fillings.

The next few hours was a blur of chopping, melting, mixing, mashing, and of course, shooting b-roll.

By 4pm we were sitting at the dining room table passing hot dishes from daughter to grandfather to son and on, right over the noses of three anxious dogs.

It’ll be at least a few days before I find the will (and the hand dexterity) to dig into all of the footage, so don’t hold your breath but definitely stay tuned. Below are a few screenshots because I’m a bit of a tease…

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I won’t be single for long?

As I’ve said before, I’m obsessed with the minute-long cooking videos on Facebook. While these videos were popularized by the Tasty channel, that was merely a gateway drug to those of us who need a virtual food fix when sitting in class.

Today, I was sitting on my computer being admittedly extremely unproductive when I came across a new video from Food Network for Rachel Ray’s “’You won’t be single for long’ Vodka Cream Pasta.” Aside from the striking first visual of cheesy tomatoey goodness being speared by a fork, I was enticed by the title. And no, not just because it had the word vodka in it.

“You won’t be single for long” may be the weirdest modifier I’ve ever seen on a dish. Don’t worry, I’m not about to break into a song about how magical the single life is and how I don’t need no man or how sad it is that our society prioritizes romantic relationships so much (I could but that would be sad).

Instead I decided to test the validity of the title. After all, I’ve frequently found that things don’t meet their moniker. For example, I’ve never found hot sauce to be particularly “hot.” And of course I don’t think that Vegan Mac and Cheese deserves to use the word cheese given that it has none.

So can this pasta make me a match? If I follow the recipe line by line, will I finally have someone to hold my hand in the grocery store?

Here’s the video in question:

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Here’s what my version looks like:

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My first complaint after prepping this would be that it’s prettier than me, so I’m not sure how helpful that is.

Second, it wasn’t too difficult to follow. I was kind of hoping for an intricate recipe that would demonstrate my cooking prowess to potential suitors. Any old plain jane could have pulled this one off, especially given the fact that there was an accompanying video.

It was, however, delicious, which I am to assume was the point of the name.

It’s been about 15 hours since I devoured this bowl of pasta. I’m not sure what the timeline is for this past to work its magic but I’m patiently waiting for something to happen. Stay tuned.

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You can find the full recipe here.

Election 2016

Can you believe it? Election Day is mere hours away. It’s been a long time coming for all of us. I’ve been waiting for it for 11 years.

When I was nine years old, I stood on the side of the road in Tiburon, California holding a Bush Cheney sign next to a handful of the other rare republicans in NorCal.

A couple weeks later, I stayed up hours past my bed time watching the ballots come in. I couldn’t sleep before seeing good ol’ George beat that wishy-washy ketchup guy John Kerry.

In 2008, I saw the White House turn blue.

In 2012 , I watched the election from my AP Poli Sci class because I was only 17.

Four years later, my time is finally here. It’s 2016, I’m 21, and I’m heading to the polls.

I’m no politics buff. Sure, I’ve done my research and know what marks I’m making on Tuesday, but I wouldn’t ever say I’m in a place But I am a food blogger, so you had to see this coming in some way…

…the presidential candidates as sandwiches:

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No matter what your sandwich preferences, it’s extremely important that tomorrow you get out and vote!

 

The Great RV fire of the early 2000s, redeemed

It’s been crazy busy around here lately. I often feel like I’m standing at the edge a cliff getting pelted with things trying not to get knocked over. Come May, I know I will get pushed over by a sweet lady named ‘Graduation.’

My favorite escape from the crippling anxiety of becoming an adult is food. When I’m hungry: eating it. When I’m bored: cooking it. When I’m exhausted: watching it on Food Network.

One of my least favorite shows, which I still watch from time to time for no reason, is Chopped Kids. First off, the name is a little alarming. You’re doing what to kids? Sorry that was such a dad joke.

In the various versions of this show, they put four kids of similar ages (hopefully all old enough to be holding a knife) into the chopped kitchen and tell them to compete. And darn these kids are impressive.

That wasn’t me. At age 8 my signature dish was a haphazard mix of rotel tomatoes, cream, and pasta.

The darkest point of my culinary childhood, however, occurred in an RV at my grandparents house in Colorado. My best friend Amanda and I had raided the RV’s neglected cabinets and found what must have been some pretty old rice cri and marshmallows. Not knowing any better, we thought we were perfectly equipped to make some rice crispy treats to nom on in secret so no one would try to abscond them.

Fact: Rice crispies, marshmallows, and an old RV microwave are not all the necessary components of a rice crispy treat. They are, however, perfectly good components for a small RV fire and a lot of family embarrassment.

This week I decided to redeem myself.

Your basic recipe has cereal, marshmallows, and butter. I decided to punch it up by adding various candies that I “borrowed” from the leftover Halloween candy at my office.

Biggest takeaways:

A) If you’re looking to avoid a fire, definitely use butter.

B) Don’t be a cheapo like me and go for the bargain brand cereal. Sorry Great Value, but you don’t really measure up to the real deal.

C) Rice crispy treats really aren’t all that impressive. They’re just a filler dessert. Kind of like this is a filler blog post because I know I’m going to be graded one of these days.

Aaron Carter gets me

I have always had a pretty unhealthy relationship with candy.

In fifth grade, I got put on probation from my school production of “Suessical the Musical” because I missed rehearsal twice to walk a mile down to the grocery story to buy candy with my best friend Ilana.

A couple years prior to this probation, I was convicted of being the family “Candy Thief” because for a solid month or so I pillaged my siblings’ Halloween candy stashes.

Nutritionists and neuroscientists alike will tell you that sugar is addictive. The progression of my school photos backs that up—I was pretty pudgy there for a while.

We’ve somehow reached the end October, meaning that a candy-lover’s favorite holiday is only a couple days away. I may be terrible at coming up with costume ideas, but wow am I good at consuming candy.

While it’s no longer socially acceptable for me to go trick-or-treating, I have the distinct privilege of being able to drive a car to the grocery story to buy my own candy because I’m an adult.

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I love candy, so I don’t have the heart to rank it. Instead I’ll give you an orderless list of my candy opinions:

Reeses: Always a solid option. If you don’t like them, there’s a good chance I don’t like you.

Starburst: Unfortunately on Halloween, these come in two packs. I would take the time to calculate the probability of getting one or two yellows in a pack, but I swore off math a while ago. I think we can all just agree that yellow is the stupidest color of Starburst. Pink is best. Orange is second best. Red is third best. Yellow is gross. No discussion.

Lemonheads: This is straight up the only lemon candy that is worth a crap.

Skittles: Try eating a bag of these without hating yourself. Also, try opening a bag and willing yourself not to eat the whole thing. Godspeed.

Hershey’s: I’m a bit of a chocolate snob. I like mine dark and over 70 percent cocoa. If I could change one thing about this world it would be that this crap is called chocolate: After living in Belgium, where chocolate is religion, I can confirm that Hershey’s is hardly chocolate. But yeah okay fine I eat it anyway.

Tootsie rolls: Kind of gross but you know you eat them anyway. Back around my candy thief days when I was a budding young chef, I would cut them into little pieces and call them “Tootsie Bites.” I sent a letting about this idea to the manufacturer but never heard back.

Candy Corn: For some reason there’s a weird pop culture debate about these things right now. I call it weird because generally we don’t quarrel over things that are so cut and dry. Candy corn is disgusting and everyone should know that. Frankly I’m upset that they stole delicious corn’s name. One time I won a whole jar of it in one of those “Guess how many?” competitions. Every single one of those nasty nugs went in the trash. Speaking of nugs…

Milk Duds: What a disgusting name for a candy. While they don’t necessarily deserve the yucky name, they’re just not worth the effect on your waistline.

Snickers: Brilliant marketing campaign, “meh” product.

These are just the candies that came to my mind first, but I know I’ve left out dozens. Got any particularly strong feelings about candy? Sound off in my ever-neglected comment section.

Happy Halloween!

We don’t talk politics at brunch

With November 8 right around the corner, I think a lot of us are wondering if this country is going in the right direction.

Don’t worry, I’m not about to step onto a political soap box. I am, however, going to talk about something that is very near and dear to my heart. Something that makes me proud to be a citizen of this country. Something we call “brunch.”

In case this is your first time visiting my blog or you’ve somehow forgotten, I had the privilege of spending the first half of 2016 living in Europe. As magical as that experience was, I spent most of those five months disturbingly deprived of brunch. This is in small part due to the fact that I was very wallet-conscious, and in large part due to the lack of availability of really outstanding brunch food.

In the past few years, America has become obsessed with trendy brunch places. Just a couple weeks ago I went around town with a friend hopping from restaurant to restaurant in Columbia searching for one that wouldn’t involve a two-hour wait. (We settled at Room 38. They have six variations of biscuits and gravy. ‘Nuff said.)

howBrunch is crafty little beast. It someone managed to convince us that it was fair to cobble together two separate meals into a super-spread, nearly giving it a monopoly on the meal scene. I’m surprised the Dems haven’t tried to regulate that.*

One of the key reasons that I’m so enamored with brunch is that it allows me to be a total potato in the morning and still enjoy breakfast-themed food when I wake up at noon, like I did today.

When I did finally extract myself from the covers, I decided to make a classic: sweet potato hash. It’s one of those things that starts with a relatively healthy, simple base that can be altered based on what you have on hand. Since I didn’t even have the potatoes themselves, I ran to the store to stock up on all the things I want on a dirty, sexy pile of hash.

The defining quality of hash that separates the men from the boys, as they say, is the egg. If you’re capable of topping your hash with a sunny, runny yolk, I salute you. Today, I attempted a truly risky feat: the poached egg.

Ever heard the phrase “Walk in on surgery halfway through and it looks like murder”? That’s how I would describe poaching eggs. Just watch this video and you’ll see what I mean.

I would probably guess that the human surgery survival rate is actually higher than the poached egg survival rate, though, especially after my experience today. Don’t even ask how many eggs took the plunge into my simmering cauldron before I succeeded.

After a solid hour of prepping, panfrying, and poaching, I did create the dirty, sexy hash of my dreams. Here’s the rundown:

-3/4 cup sweet potato

-1/4 cup red bell pepper

-1/4 cup sweet onion

-1 clove garlic

-3 slices Canadian bacon

-1/2 avocado

-1/3 cup pico de gallo

-1/2 cup baby kale

-1 egg

-1/2 tbsp Sriracha

Step one: Dice the potato, bell pepper, onion, bacon, and garlic so it’s all ready to go right when you need it. Dicing can be very labor intensive so I get this step done in one swoop before I start any cooking.

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Step two: Fry up the bacon until it’s got a golden color. Remove from the pan.

Step three: caramelize red bell pepper and onion until soft and lightly browned. Add garlic and sauté for a couple minutes.

Step four: Add sweet potato and cover with lid, stirring every five minutes or so until the potato is soft.

Step five: While the potato softens, bring a small pot of water, vinegar, and a pinch of salt to a simmer. Make a little whirl pool with a spoon and then add a fresh, cold egg. Take the pot of the heat and cover undisturbed for five minutes. After five minutes take the egg out with a slotted spoon and place it on a paper towel.

Step six: Add the bacon back to the hash and mix in some seasoning salt. Optional: I like to get a little texture on my potatoes so I press down on the potatoes with a spatula and crack up the heat for a couple minutes so they get a little crusty.

Step seven: Assemble your hash. I like to lay the greens down first and top them with the hash so that they wilt a little from the residual heat. Top the potatoes with the rest of the fixins: pico, avocado, and (VERY carefully so you don’t prematurely break the yolk) the poached egg. Top with more pepper and Sriracha.

Boom. You’ve got brunch.

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*I would just like to be clear that this is purely a feeble attempt at making a political joke, not an actual statement on my party affiliation