Thursday, August 9, 2012

cooking adventures

i'll be the first to tell you i'm not very good at cooking...which doesn't make sense. let's start with the fact that i watch the food network like it's my job. there must be something, joy perhaps, that i get out of watching other people make delicious food easily. it's no secret that i just love to watch food network and i'll even watch the same show over if i've already seen it. i don't know why it doesn't translate - why watching countless hours of cooking shows on tv just doesn't seem to stick.

to be honest, the real reason i have no excuse to be bad at cooking is because i come from a long line of amazing cooks - grandma, aunt, and mother! what is wrong with me? what gene am i missing where things just tend to not turn out despite my best effort to become a better cook? i've grown up with amazing food my whole life from these three fabulous ladies. and not only do these ladies cook delicious food - the bake delicious goodies! my mom continually asks me to move home (i know she gets lonely) and i keep refusing. the real reason i can't move home is because i'd blow up like the goodyear blimp.

in an attempt to try and get better at cooking, tonight i attempted to make a modification of Martha Stewart's Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart. there are a few things you need to know - i hate onions (or in this case, leeks) and if it's not already in my apartment, i dont go get it...i just "work around it". so when i didn't have sour cream, basil, goat cheese, or mustard - i just found ways around it. but isn't that what cooking is really about?

so here's what happened. i took some puffed pastry (as martha directed) and forgot to thaw it out at lunch. ha! ok, minor set back. i left it out for 45 minutes and we were good to go. I rolled it out a bit...but of course  i haven't inherited a rolling pin what did i have to use? my to-go coffee mug (i doesn't have a handle, and it would have worked a little better if  the size didn't taper). after it was rolled out, i pinched up the sides and despite the directions saying to use parchment paper (duh, i didn't have any) i used foil. combining a mixture of garlic powder, herb de province, pepper, and salt i brushed the pastry with olive oil and herb blend. using tomatoes from my parent's garden, i thinly sliced and aligned two tomatoes as shown below.
pretty fancy, huh? but i didnt stop there, nope! the thought had crossed my mind to just make it like this, but what fun is that? keep going, add more stuff!! and i did! a coworker of mine was nice enough to bring me some yellow squash from her garden. so i sliced that shizz up and put it on there too! 
this "tart" ended up with a lot more squash than this, but i guess i forgot to take a photo of it. well, all right - we got tomatoes and squash. sprinkled with some salt and pepper. did i mention i put red pepper flake on the crust as well, because i did! but we're not done yet - nope! where's the cheese?! as i said before, i didn't have any goat cheese and i wasn't about to go get any. but what i did have was some mozzarella pearls. i guess i forgot to take a photo of that...i'll get better at this - i promise. 

all right - it's in the oven and here's what it looked ike as the cheese was gettin ooy-gooey.
martha recommended that it be in there for 25 minutes and when i put it in i was wondering "what does marthat know about cooking?" oh, wait - a whole lot more than me. so i questioned her time and ultimately ended up with it in there about 25 minutes at 400 degrees. are wise.

so when it came out - it looked like this:

now i'd be lying if i didn't say i was slightly worried i'd get sick from under-cooked puff pastry, but surprisingly i haven't gotten sick yet...and on top of that it was actually rather tasty! though i don't think i'll be quick to eat it again too soon, but it was a nice adventure. next time i would probably try to make smaller ones so that it cooked more evenly. the middle was rather doughy.

well - let me know if any of you try this out and it works out better for you.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

music wednesdays

well - you've made it...half way through the week. here's a new group that i've been digging big time lately. have you heard of First Aid Kit? her voice is eerie and simple and takes you to a place you may not have visited in a while. if you haven't checked them out yet,  you definitely need to. 

enjoy and have an awesome wednesday!

Monday, August 6, 2012

strange encounters of the milwaukee kind

Have you ever been insulted (not assaulted) by a stranger? This past Friday after work, I was meeting a friend for a walk around the Thrid Ward. I was walking through The Shops of Grand Avenue Mall (what’s left of them anyway because let’s be honest, there are hardly any) when I encountered a decision – either take the stairs or wait for the elevator. Seeing as I am an able-bodied, twenty-something gal, I decided to take the stairs unknowing that this would result in a quick jab from a stranger.

As I encountered the stairs and glanced at the elevator, I did notice that there was a man in his late 30’s waiting for the elevator. It was not because of him that I decided to take the stairs, but I guess he noticed my hesitation when I was trying to decide how lazy I was going to be.

When I got to the bottom of the stairs, the elevator doors opened up and the man who had just seen me on the 2nd floor walked out. We made eye contact and as we started to walk out the doors to Wisconsin Avenue he says to me “You came down those stairs quick! Luckily I’m not attracted to you. I don’t think I’d be able to catch you if I was.”

Though I think he was just trying to be funny, it came off as a slight jab. Will I take it to heart, nah – I don’t think so. It was just one of those moments when you’re like – “wait, what did you just say?”  

Maybe I just found it odd because earlier that day I was walking into my apartment building and encountered a man sitting on the street eating from a box of cereal. He looked me up and down and said “hello” in a strange voice. Why was he just sitting there on the sidewalk eating out of box of cereal – doesn’t he know it tastes much better with milk? (Note: I am not being insensitive, he was not homeless) maybe he’s friends with the guy who sells incents out of the front of his motorized cart right outside my building. I could see that. They could be friends.

Thank you, Milwaukee for always keeping it interesting.

Friday, August 3, 2012

grandest happy hour

A few shared beverages with friends at The Shops of Grand Avenue Mall in Downtown Milwaukee. It has been downtown employee appreciation week and for the last five years, Thursday is Happy Hour Day. Did any of you participate in any of the activities this year? Volleyball, Yoga, TRX, Trivia?

Once again there were tasty brews from the local Rock Bottom Brewery of their IPA, Naughty Scot, and seasonal Jazzberry. They ran out quickly! 

 HAPPY FRIDAY, lovely people! Enjoy your day!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

mil-photo (milwaukee photos)

I thought I would share one of my favorite photos I've recently taken around the city and a notable landmark of downtown Milwaukee, Renaissance Books. Recently this fabulous building has closed due to lack of structural integrity so if you're in the city any time soon - be sure to see this before it only lives in our memories.
When looking and reflecting on a lot of the photos that I have taken, I've noticed that I am drawn to older buildings and great architecture. What are your favorite types of photos to take - people, still life, scenery? 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

music wednesdays

Let's face it, Hump Day takes a little more effort to get through. Why not make it a little easier with some fresh music? This week I've chosen to share music from one of the best shows I've ever had the pleasure of attending.  June 16th, 2011, My Morning Jacket came to the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee. Such an eye-gasmic show. If you ever get the chance to see them, please do. 

I hope My Morning Jacket helps you get through the rest of your week like it helps me get through mine.

Do you already listen to My Morning Jacket? What's your favorite song from them?