Sunday, April 28, 2013

40 X 40

For the last few years I have been making a to-do list of things I want to get done before my next birthday.  Since I took a 6 month hiatus on my blog this year, I have less than 6 months to get 40 things done before I turn 40.  Hence the name 40 x 40.  Let me not waste anymore time.  Note: I of course have already been carrying a mental list in my head for a few months and am well on my way to start checking off some items!


1) Re-do front yard.
2) Go to New York and Washington DC.
3) Sew curtains for guest bedroom.
4) Paint living room/kitchen.
5) Write sci-fi/fantasy novel(la).
6) Attend Seattle Opera's Ring Cycle and make a different hat to wear to each of the 4 operas.
7) Buy/make headboard for new bed.
9) Apply to 6 public art mosaic jobs.
10) Attend a 1st Thursday Art Walk in Seattle.
11) Walk 4 loops (10 miles) straight at Point Defiance OR walk half marathon. 
12) Adopt a new pet. (Most likely a kitten)
13) Throw a dinner party for 20.
14) Paint new paintings to display at Carol's wine shop.
15) Have 50 items listed on ETSY shop.
16) Finish re-do of art website.
17) Octopus tattoo.  (Finally)
18) Make bitters.
19) Take glassblowing class.
20) Take dancing lessons.
21) Take distillery class.
22) Re-organize closet-get rid of old clothes!
23) Sew a skirt.
24) Perfect a French macaroon recipe.
25) Attend a performance at the Seattle Symphony or Tacoma Opera.  Or both.
26) Buy a dehydrator--experiment with farmers' market bounty.
27) See a movie in "3D".
28) Make new statement necklace for self.
29) Donate blood.
30) "Plein air" painting at Point Defiance Park.
31) Day hike at state park.  (Use our new Discovery Pass!)
32) Put together some sort of pop-up art show/fundraiser.
33) Host a martini party.
34) Stamp/paint on silk.
36) Create online class.
37) Read Al Gore's new book, The Future.
38) Go through craft and art supplies and donate unused/under used supplies.
39) Host a mini golf party.
40) Finish putting our financial things in order.  (Re-fi, new bank, will, etc)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

When the Cookbooks Almost Took Over the Kitchen

For years turning into decades, I have studiously kept my cookbook shopping to a minimum.  If I bought a new cookbook, I would donate an old one that I didn't cook from that often.  I don't know why I felt I should keep the cookbook clutter to a such a minimum.  I mean, cooking is one of my favorite hobbies.  I have no problem hoarding beads or fabric or art books, but cookbooks I thought I should keep in check.  I allowed myself 2 shelves next to our stove and that was it. 

But something snapped in me at the end of last year and I started going cookbook crazy.  I discovered the Jerusalem born chef Yotam Ottolenghi for a start.  I also acquired some cookbooks as gifts and I started buying Heidi Swanson's cookbooks (of the 101 Cookbooks blog) after following her recipes online for several years.  The cookbooks started over taking the kitchen island. 

Simultaneously, I was losing space on my counter.  The one major flaw of our kitchen is that there is no proper pantry, so I have to tuck food away into nooks and crannies.  I finally realized I could move the cookbooks out of the way and clear the space at the same time.

Ikea to the rescue!  Now, I actually did not want to shop at Ikea.  I tried to shop local.  I tried to find interesting modern furniture from new and used shops near my home and came up with absolutely nothing.  A few stained, wobbly shelves at a couple of different "antique" (read: junk) stores and country kitchen yech at the couple of local house boutiques.  So I compromised and went to Ikea.  

And I have already filled up my new bookshelf!  I thought I would have a ton of space to fill in a few more cookbooks.  

The counter looks great now and the oatmeal and extra spices are up off the counter as they should be.

Now this time, I really mean it, no more cookbooks than what I can store in this shelf.  Let's see if I can stick to this for another 10 years.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Back With Some Heart

 Hello, it's been a while!  I am back from my art making hiatus!  I took the last 5 months to work on a big mosaic project which I will be posting about in the next couple of days.  But first, let's get serious with some heart.

Beef heart, that is.

I know, I know, just the thought of beef heart grosses people out.  I am not entrirely sure why we are so squeamish about the heart.  It should not be confused with organ meat like the liver.  It is steak, the leanest, meatiest tasting steak you can find.  And it is cooked all over the world but not not much here in the U.S.  The best thing about its poor status is that it is also incredibly cheap.  We first tried beef heart at a fancy restaurant in Portland that charged $100 a head.  They sure pulled a fast one on us.

But eating it in a restaurant got us to thinking about where we could find it in Tacoma, which led us to the new HMart, an Asian (Korean leaning) grocery store and there on the freezer aisle was a whole stack of beef hearts.  

I browsed around on the internet and found lots and lots of different videos and instruction on prepping and cooking heart.  Whoopeee!  Love the interwebs.

The weirdest and hardest part about cooking the heart is trimming and butchering the heart.  It's messy.  There are lots of little veins and a whole layer of fat on the outside that needs to be cut away.  It's squishy sounding and looks like a prop from a Night of the Dead type of movie.  But it's worth it, people, it really is worth it.  Plus you get the feel good bonus of knowing you used a very much under used piece of meat. 

Get yourself a sharp knife.  Mine was a little dull and I hacked the thing to pieces.  I have since bought a new fillet knife and another heart that is defrosting in the fridge as we speak and I am going to have another go. 

Honestly though, it doesn't really matter if you make it ugly because the odd shape of the heart makes it impossible to make pretty steaks so the best thing to do is cut it into small pieces and then either grill it on skewers or cook it in a dutch oven or bake it in the oven. 

Once you get the Night of the Living Dead bits off, it just looks like a steak.  An incredibly lean, low fat steak.  

I decided to skewer the steak so I cut it into roughly 1/2" by 2"-3" pieces.  

The key to getting a lot of flavor out of the heart is to marinate it.  I picked out a Peruvian Anticucho sauce recipe which my husband and I quickly modified to add even more chiles than specified.  The key is the dried California chile pods that you buy in the Hispanic section of the grocery store.  You cut off the stem and shake out the seeds and then reconstitute them in simmering water.  These dried chiles are key because they give off a smoky flavor and not as much heat as you expect.   

Then all the peppers and olive oil and vinegar and spices go into the food processor to make the sauce.  We marinated the beef for 4 hours before grilling.

They cooked very quickly over a hot grill.   Don't over cook or they will become too tough.
Serve simply with a salad or a grilled veggie like asparagus.  Delicious!

Jennevieve and Trevor's Beef Heart with Anticucho Sauce

1 beef heart, 2-3 pounds and trimmed of all silver skin and sinew bits
4 dried California Chile pods
4 small dried chiles (Arbol chiles)
3 cloves garlic
pinch of saffron
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 fresh jalapeno, stem removed, seeded, and chopped
1 poblano pepper, stem removed, seeded, and roughly chopped
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
freshly ground pepper

Cut heart into your preferred size strip for kabobs and place in glass baking dish.

Remove stems and seeds from dried California chiles and place in small saucepan, covered with water.  Bring to a boil and then turn off heat and let soak for 20 minutes.  Drain and discard water and place chiles with arbol chiles, garlic, spices, jalapeno, poblano, and red wine vinegar in a food processor.  Process until thoroughly blended (about 1 minute) and then drizzle in olive oil while food processor is running to finish sauce.

Pour sauce into dish with sliced heart and mix well, adding salt and pepper.  Place in fridge and marinate for at least 2 hours, 4 even better or even over night.  Skewer heart and grill over high heat quickly.  Serve with lots of veggies and a red Spanish wine like Ribera Del Duero.  Yum!!!

Next we are making heart by baking it in the anticucho sauce because I want to retain more sauce and be able to pour it over rice.  I have a 3 pound grass fed heart defrosting in my fridge that a rancher brought in for us at our local farmer's market.  I am excited to taste if there is a difference between the mass produced heart and the grass fed heart.  I bought a new knife just for the butchering.  It's the little things in life that make me happy.