Cook The Books Julio

I managed to cook quite a few recipes from this months cook the books challenge. Check the challenge out here with grow and resist. The book Gran Cocina Latina by Maricel Presilla is seriously huge!  I did appreciate the background for the recipes, I was looking for traditional dishes that seemed like something the T-man and I would enjoy. I was determined to make as much as I could squeeze into my tiny kitchen and busy life. There were a few recipes that were home runs, but most were just okay.

Lets start out with the good stuff

The fried plantains were delicious and simple; both myself and the T-man gobbled them up so quickly I made them repeatedly throughout the month and will add them to my recipe repertoire for the future. So easy: simply slice the plantains fry for a bit dip in salt water squish flat (I used two paper plates for the squishing) then fry crispy and enjoy.

I also took on the task of making the cuban sandwiches including the bread. Having never made cuban bread and not reading the recipe completely (a common mistake I am destined to continue making) I arrived home from work at 5pm planning on making it for dinner that evening. Letting the dough rise overnight wasn’t an option, so I sped up the timing a bit. I took Maricel’s advice and instead of kneading I ran the dough through my pasta maker. The resulting sandwich was delicious. I am not that crazy about pork but the bread was amazing, it gets perfectly crisp when griddled. I will  be using that recipe again, hopefully with a little more advance planning 🙂

The Bread was amazing!

The Bread was amazing!

Moving onto the okay results

I made the recipe entitled “old clothes”, and thats kinda what the results look like, old grey clothes.

old clothes, kinda a good description

old clothes, kinda a good description

The flavor was decent but the beef a little stringy. We ate it taco style in flour tortillas, again with plantains.


I tried my hand at mole which was not as difficult as I thought it would be, but I wish there was a little more kick to the result. I also made the empenadas,  omitting the olives. They were pretty good, and convenient as you can refrigerate the dough and filling and then kinda make them on the fly, good for those late work nights. Although I think I will add cheese next time.

I made the nopales I always wondered how you were supposed to cook these, after reading the recipe and asking the hispanic ladies that I work with I set out to conquer these prickly leaves. Luckily the little market that I went to sells them already sliced and de-prickified. The resulting dish was reminiscent of green beans, although I should have rinsed a few more times because they were still a little slimy. We ate these along with chayote gratin; which was pretty good but would have been perfect if I had cooked the chayote a bit longer; and some cuban roast chicken which was a decent roast chicken in the end.

not a bad meal

not a bad meal

All in all most of the recipes were okay but not awesome. I am glad that I discovered a few to make again, and with such a large book, many more that I can try. It was nice to get into this cuisine living on the southern coast of Cali, this food is a great way to connect to the local culture. My favorite part was re-discovering the local hispanic market, what a place! I have been there a few times in the past but had forgotten how lovely it was, it was nice to get back there.

Santa Cruz Market

Santa Cruz Market

In the end it was a very productive cook the books month. Can’t wait to dive into Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones!!













Butt Kicking Life

These last few months life has been in a butt kicking mood! In March I rather suddenly quit my job, what can I say I was miserable, I have now started two new jobs, one part time baking for a local shop, and the other full time in a beautiful hotel downtown. Funny enough I feel so much less stressed than I did having only my previous full time position. I like the creative outlet of the baking job and working in a hotel feels like home to me. An added bonus is that since my job is downtown and parking sucks, it forces me to walk about 15 minutes back and forth to the hotel which is the beginning of what could be considered daily exercise?

I also took a rather impromptu trip to Chicago for the T-man’s brother’s graduation. I LOVE CHICAGO, so much more than New York City! Although the weather was warm and muggy for a few days we did manage to go downtown to the aquarium and to the zoo. I also pigged out on all of my Chicago favorites; stuffed deep dish pizza, Italian beef combos with cheese fries, Chicago dogs, and gyros (still not sure how that is pronounced??) All in all it was a great trip, and a fun little vacation.

After returning it was back to the craziness that comes with having two jobs, working a lot, and somehow trying to get a handle on housework, and just generally adjusting to a new schedule. I have been reading a ton! much to the annoyance of the T-man (I seem to have inherited my Father’s skill of tuning out the world when I read) The local thrift store was having a BOGO sale on books, so along with my friend we perused the titles while she stacked must reads into my arms I picked up about 10 new books ( I am slowly working up to my own personal library). Can I just say there is nothing that I enjoy so much more reading an actual book than reading one off from our tablet; you  just can’t beat turning the corner down to keep your place! I have read Memoirs of a Geisha (recommended by my friend) and LOVED IT, then I picked up a copy of Anne of Green Gables because I remember the movie as a kid. So many great titles so little free time!

There has been a bitter sweet new addition to my family. Sadly my beta fish Sebastian died (I may not have the best skills for tank maintenance). So I now have a new fish and new resolve to improve my beta caring skills.

Meet Fuego Peacock! I get it’s a weird name but its a hybrid of a suggestions from my friend Weez and the T-man. Weez suggested Fuego, which means Fire in Spanish which I loved because it suits him and for my hotel job I am working on improving my non-existent Spanish. The Peacock was the T-man’s suggestion strange but also fitting.

Did I also mention that I let my friends talk me into signing up for a 10K in September! It may not seem like that much, but to someone who is in sad need of exercise I know with out preparation it will kick my butt! So July 1st i am faced with the necessary evil of committing to training for this. I would be lying if I said that I was looking forward to it, hopefully my attitude improves.

Well about now I feel like I have a better handle on the work schedule and am making it work for us, I am looking to achieve that elusive life-work-balance (does it even really exist? I ‘m thinking its more of a Bigfoot or lochness monster type of thing). So I am in desperate need of some projects, I decided to order the next two months Cook the Books cook books off from Amazon, and have been perusing pinterest for some craft ides. I also am flipping through my preserving book to search for my next pickling project.

Any suggestions on some projects?? I need something to keep busy!!! (HA)

Cook The Books

So I have jumped on the “cook the books” bandwagon started by Oh Briggsy and Grow and Resist , and ordered this months book “The Mile End”

Well it took me until almost the end of the month to get myself together and test some of the recipes but here is how they turned out.

I regretfully do not have the means to smoke meat (a space and equipment issue) so I settled on the beef on weck recipe. I roasted the beef on Tuesday and I must say it was super easy! The T-man declared it the best roast beef we have made yet!  Any other roast beef I have made we either  cooked it rotisserie style or roasted it, but cooking the beef at 500 degrees and then leaving it in the oven to finish and cool resulted in a perfectly rare roast beef. Luckily we had purchased a small deli slice a couple years ago and it was easily sliced into thin deli slices!

Now on to the Weck, well i didn’t actually have caraway seeds so i guess what I actually made was Beef on kaiser rolls, but let me tell you those kaiser rolls were perfect! I did have a hard time following the instructions when it came to forming the rolls but they were delicious and that is what really matters. I will definitely be making these for future sandwiches!

Unfortunately I could not find horseradish root and settled on making the pickled red onions instead. They came out great and I will definitely be garnishing away with these babies for some time to come.

Overall I was impressed with the few recipes I did try and based on other reviews I will be making the cinnamon rolls ASAP!

The finished product Delicious!

The finished product Delicious!