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Archive for April, 2009

The big food-related news around here? We have a garden! After a year and a half on the waiting list, we found out in March that we would receive a plot in the community garden near our home. Set on federal park land here in Washington, DC, our community garden has been in continuous operation since the victory garden days of World War II. Each season, dozens of neighborhood families use their plot to grow vegetables and herbs using organic methods.

The plots are extremely large – ours is 23 by 28 feet – so figuring out what to plant and where is the first task. We bought Burpee’s guide to organic vegetable gardening right away, and it has been extremely helpful already. We’ve determined a basic layout and set aside space for putting a table and chairs for relaxing. Our apartment has no outdoor space, so this area will be wonderful to have.

After pulling some of the many weeds and laying out 3 beds, we planted arugula seeds in early April and Swiss chard seeds last week. Here is our full planting list:

Arugula seeds – early April (done and sprouted)

Swiss chard seeds – mid-April (done)

Broccoli seedlings – ASAP

Thyme – ASAP

Chive plants (regular chives and garlic chives) – ASAP when I can find an already-growing bulb

Tomato seedlings – mid-May

Basil (regular and Thai) – mid-May

Bell pepper seedlings – mid-late May

Cucumber seedlings – mid-late May

 

I am so excited to make things with my garden produce and hang out in our outdoor space. Below is a picture of Hobbes and me in the garden the first week we went (in late March). I can’t believe I was wearing a fleece in that picture because today it’s supposed to hit 90 degrees! Hopefully, the greens will grow nicely in the warm weather this weekend. As things progress, I will certainly share my best garden recipes and lessons learned with you!

garden

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bulgogi

I am back! Well, sort of. The demands of finishing up my Master’s degree and securing a full-time job have had me bogged down lately. Not only has my blog been suffering, but my cooking has shifted to faster and easier dishes as well. However, there is an end in sight as I will complete all requirements for my M.A. on June 15! I am looking forward to having a lot more time for all things food-related – cooking, blogging, and gardening (more on that coming soon). In the meantime, I wanted to share this awesome recipe for a dish I made a couple of weeks ago: beef bulgogi.

Bulgogi is a Korean dish. Craig could not say the word “bulgogi” at all, which led to a lot of teasing. The dish is pretty simple – it consists of very thin strips of beef, marinated and quickly sauteed. This recipe, which comes from the Culinary Institute of America and purports to be authentic, has you serve the beef as lettuce wraps, with a lot of Korean-style accompaniments such as kimchee and sticky rice. However, I wanted the beef to stand out (and I couldn’t find a lot of the Korean accessories at the grocery store), so I decided to go with a simpler presentation. I wrapped the beef in thin tortillas and added a small amount of oven-baked brown rice, a few blanched asparagus spears, and plenty of the pan juices. In terms of the actual beef, though, I followed the recipe’s instructions pretty much to a “t”. I highly recommend this dish. The key is to slice the beef as thinly as possible and resist getting lazy and slicing it thicker as you go. To make the slicing easier, as they suggest, you can pop the sirloin in the freezer for 30-60 minutes before slicing. If you do that, this will turn out great.

Korean beef bulgogi

Adapted from: Epicurious.com

ingredients

¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon Asian (toasted) sesame oil

1 tablespoon mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)

¼ Asian pear, coarsely grated (about 1/4 cup) (follow their instructions and grate it – mine was too ripe to grate, so I diced it, but then I had to take out the pieces that were left after I sautéed it since I didn’t want them in the finished dish)

½ medium onion, coarsely grated (about 1/2 cup)

2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)

½ teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated

1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted, plus additional for garnish

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound beef sirloin, trimmed of excess fat and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons canola oil

 

directions

1. Toast sesame seeds in a dry skillet and allow to cool (if you have not already done so).

2. In large bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, mirin, pear, onion, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, and pepper. Let marinade stand 30 minutes at room temperature, then add beef and toss to coat. Refrigerate, covered, 1 hour (or more – up to overnight. I did about 2 hours).

2. In large skillet over medium-high heat, heat canola oil. Remove beef from marinade, draining it very briefly over bowl to remove excess liquid, and then cook until browned and done medium-well, 6 to 7 minutes.

3. Serve as desired!

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