Monday, March 30, 2009

Spicy Meatball

My extended weekend in St. Louis wouldn't have been complete without a night in cooking together. Maria and I had been talking that we should do a cook off, a la Iron Chef America, but in the end we were all too tired from shopping and staying up later than I've stayed up in probably since college. So Maria, Maggie and I made turkey meatballs and spaghetti for everybody.
Of course we improvised it. Maria dug into the meat, egg, bread crumb mess.
Krista made vegetables.
Jenny took this artful photo. She can even make ground meat look good. Look at that flying oregano. Amy donated her apartment and cooking utensils.
Eight of us scrunched around this little coffee table in Amy's living room to laugh and eat. Life should always come with too many friends and too few chairs.
Turkey Meatballs for a Crowd:
3 pounds ground turkey meat
2 eggs
a bunch of unseasoned bread crumbs
a clove or two of garlic
parmesan cheese
dried basil, oregano and parsley
olive oil
Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Use your hands, but make sure they're clean. The consistency should be goopy, thick enough to roll into a ball and not fall apart. Roll meat into golf-ball-sized balls. Turn a burner on to medium high and heat up some oil. Pan fry the meatballs until they are brown on the outside. Check one or two to make sure they're done. Serve with spaghetti and meat sauce.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Eric's Tikka Masala Mango Omelet

Here's why Megan and Eric are a great couple: Eric likes to cook and Megan likes to eat. I'll have backtrack and say that Megan does cook. But one of the best things about Megan is that she'll try anything and she almost always likes it. This is a great thing for me because I'll make something new that we all know isn't that good, but she always likes it. It's always great when someone declares your soup to be the best they've ever eaten in their entire life. Reason number two why Megan and Eric are great is that they are among the most hospitable people I know. They have always made me feel welcome, even when I'm the third wheel. I can remember the first meal Eric made that I ate. It was fish tacos with mango salsa a bunch of other good stuff that he threw together with the assistance of Megan. It was also my first introduction to Eric's roommates/med school friends. We sat at the table and discussed, in all seriousness, STDs. I found the conversation to be hilarious, but I think Eric's friends were embarassed later that the first time they met me they talked about the details of an ob/gyn rotation at the dinner table. If you can imagine our first conversation already going there, think of all subsequent conversations in Eric's living room sitting on his big, leather couch. If only the stories weren't too inappropriate to publish ... So I'll just tell one. Someone told me lately that they really appreciated Eric's quiet humor. I do too, though I think I'd describe his humor as unexpected. Back when we had our party in December, Eric showed up late after driving in from his rotation in western Nebraska somewhere. At some point in the evening, I used the word coif to describe a haircut. Eric didn't believe I was using the word correctly, so he got up and pulled my dictionary off my bookshelf to look it up. We subsequently got into a discussion about how, when I'm editing a story, people often use words that they think they know what they mean and how they should be used, but they really don't. Megan was in the room (and I can't remember exactly how this came about) but she got Eric to quiz her on random words from the dictionary. Eric would open a page and give Megan, Lindsey and me words to define from the dictionary AT OUR PARTY. I know what you're thinking, "what a lame party." But I thought it was hilarious. And I think you'd have to know how competitive Megan is to appreciate the situation. But who reads from a dictionary at a party? Yep, that's right, Eric. Eric sent me this photo yesterday and told me I could make up a blog. I may have just gotten a little carried away, and I didn't even talk about the omelet in the photo. I will say that Eric is an expert at throwing things together and having them turn out fantastic. Tikka Masala Mango Omelet: by Eric M. 3 eggs (2 yolks if you want your LDL to be 44 like Megan's) splash milk pinch salt two turns pepper quarter red pepper 1/2 clove garlic 3 tbsp onion minced avocado halved and sliced (only need a half) 4 cherry tomatos, halved 1/4 cup monterey jack, shredded 1 mango peeled and sliced and diced 1 loaf naan warmed 1/4 cup tikka masala sauce Saute diced pepper, onions and garlic in olive oil on high. Remove from heat, let pan cool. Turn heat to medium low. Mix eggs milk salt pepper but don't beat the eggs. Return pan to heat and cover sauted goodness with egg mixture. Add cheese, avocado, tomatos and 1/2 of tikka masala sauce to one half of omelet. Flip empty half of omelet over toppings when egg is cooked. Warm naan in the oven at 350 degrees. Plate half an omelet, garnish each with 1/2 of remaining masala. Serve with mango slices and 1/2 loaf naan. Open shades for sunlight. Brew strong coffee. Break bread. Enjoy. Serves 2.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mom's Deli in St. Louis

I'm sure I'm not the only person to adopt the philosophy that when you're on a vacation from work you're also on a vacation from eating a balanced diet. Calories don't count when you're not sitting in front of a computer all day. Plus, how are you supposed to experience all there is to a destination without trying all its culinary options? Exactly. Now I've been to St. Louis, oh, about a million times. And still there are new tastes to savor. There's the Hill, this cute Italian neighborhood with bakeries, restaurants and independent grocers. Dogtown has a great St. Patty's day parade and (of course) Irish pubs. St. Louis is the birthplace of toasted ravioli. St. Louis-style pizza at Imo's is made with Provel cheese--a combo of swiss, cheddar and provelone that turns out nice and gooey sort of like an upscale Velvetta. And Ted Drew's boasts a thick ice frozen custard.
There's more than just toasted ravioli, pizza and ice cream to the Gateway City. Last week Jenny took me and Maria to Mom's Deli for some samiches, Krista and Amy met us there. The deli is smallish, small enough that they don't have indoor seating. There was a crowd that Friday, even though the only fish option in the Catholic-dominated town was tuna. But finally its nice enough to sit outside, so long as you're in the sun.
I ordered the Mom's Sub, which I can only assume to be the restaurant's signature dish (that was sarcasm). It came with like 10 kinds of meat (OK, just 3), tomato, lettuce, etc. and their homemade Thousand Island Dressing--a sauce that's made of mayonaise, ketchup, Tobasco and finely chopped and usually pickled vegetables. Thousand Island, a variation on Russian dressing, is another typical St. Louis thing. Wikipedia says that it was invented in Chicago (just like every other food), but the Missourians have adopted it. I'll confess I'm not a big fan of mayo or ketchup for their taste and for their nutritional value. My mother instilled these eating habits. But mixed together, yeah, it was good. I love a sandwich with lots of sauce--whether it's ranch or mustard--and Mom's delivered with plenty of 1000 Island.
Maria went for the parmesan chicken sandwich (because she only eats chicken) that I believe was actually topped with Provel cheese instead of parmesan. I made her let me taste it--good. And Jenny had to go with the tuna sub. She decided that since she's not going to church, she would at least adhere to the meatless Fridays during Lent. What a good Catholic. You know how at Subway you can order a six-inch and feel like you've restrained yourself? Well, Mom's only has foot-longs. It's OK, Maria, Jenny and I cleaned them up. Don't worry mom, we had played some tennis beforehand.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Chutney and Cheese

Remember a month or so back when I made the chutney? Well it's done and delicious. I served it here with President Brie cheese--good. Next time I would not use the scary, dark balsamic vinegar because the flavor is really dominant and the color, off-putting. And I think I am finally ready to branch out and use real jalapeno peppers. I'm not sure if I can handle it without burning myself, but I'm prepared for that.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Aunt Jean Goes to School

Just when I head out of town with no blogs to post for several days, my aunt Jean comes through with a blog about a cooking class she took at her country club in Columbia, Mo., covering the Five Mother Sauces of gourmet cooking.
Brad Faith is the Chef at the country club where I play golf. He periodically offers an evening cooking class for members. You know that I am not a cook; my kitchen is just a way for me to get to the backyard; and my stove will never wear out. But, this sounded like fun, and they said you received complimentary wine while you cooked ---- so how bad could it be?
The focus of the evening was Sauces 101--the five “mother” sauces of French cooking. These are apparently the base for any other sauce you want to make. They are: Espagnole sauce/demi-glace Veloute Béchamel (white sauce) Tomato sauce Hollandaise sauce
Six of us were in the class. They set up three cooking stations so we paired up. I picked one of my golfing buddies, Marylou, because I knew she would help me rather than laugh at me.
Right off the bat, I knew I was in trouble. There was a FOUR cup-measure container FILLED with melted BUTTER at each station (actually “clarified” butter – yes, there is a difference). And, there were two ingredients in the first recipe that I had never heard of before – mirepoix and roux. I started sipping my first glass of complimentary wine.
Now, he had told us ahead of time that there was no way we could make all these sauces in the three hours of class time. So, he had done some prep work. One was the “beef stock” – and from what he told us, it sounded like it must have taken him a minimum of 12 hours to cook that up. It started out with beef bones – did you know that the closer to the ground the bone is, the more flavorful it will be; for example a leg bone is more flavorful than a rib bone? - and stuff got added, and then cooked down; then something else got added, and cooked down; and it kept getting repeated until it ended up being this brown, gelatin-like glob. After describing this whole long, arduous process, he says “or you can buy this at a gourmet store,” this tiny little white plastic jar with beef base in it.
That’s for me! I’m not spending 12 hours in the kitchen when it can be bought in 15 minutes.
The mirepoix was easy – 2 parts onion, 1 part celery, 1 part carrot, sautéed in butter until softened. (He used whole vegetables, and didn’t wash any of them – “more flavorful that way”.) It turns out that roux is also simple – it is just a thickener. Equal parts butter and flour, cooked until brown. You can have “blonde” roux (which is just barely cooked, and still yellowish) or “brown” roux (which is cooked longer, until it turns brown).
Espagnole sauce is just a basic brown sauce – we might call it gravy if we weren’t trying to impress others with our cooking prowess. It consists of mirepoix, tomato paste, beef/veal stock, brown roux and sachet d’epices (spice bag – parsley, thyme, bay leaf, garlic, peppercorns).
The Demi-glace is just the espagnole sauce with more beef stock added, and then cooked down, “reduced”, by half.
The Veloute sauce (my personal favorite – probably because Marylou and I were awarded “best in class” on this one) – is just butter, mirepoix, blonde roux, chicken stock, and sachet. You can also make it with fish stock or vegetable stock, depending upon what you are pouring it over.
Bechamel – the classic white sauce. It is just butter, onion, blonde roux, milk and a pinch of nutmeg. And we don’t have to worry if we get lumps, because you strain it through cheese cloth. (We did pretty good on this one too!)
Tomato sauce – you know this one. Olive oil (finally no butter), onion, garlic, and tomatoes (he showed us how to core and de-seed tomatoes using a melon ball cutter!). Cook it down for hours and hours and hours to get rid of all the liquid.
Hollandaise --- holy cow! The grande dame of sauces and her persnickety nature is shown in the care that must be taken to make this sauce. Egg yolks and slowly drizzled butter that have to be carefully and continuously whisked as you dip the metal bowl in and out of a hot water bath. We had to continually trade off as our arms got so tired from the constant whisking. If it gets too thick, add a teaspoon of hot water. If it gets too lumpy – well, the old strainer might come in handy again. Man-oh-man, that was a lot of work! After we finished, one of gals whispers in my ear “I make my Hollandaise using the microwave and my blender, it’s not nearly this hard!”
Then we gals have another glass of wine, and he cooks some things for us to sample using some of the sauces. He reduces tarragon and vinegar, and then adds that to the hollandaise sauce – and pours it over beef tenderloins. He sautés mushrooms in white wine, and adds that to the veloute sauce – and pours it over grilled chicken breasts. Then adds cheese to the béchamel sauce and pours that over steamed cauliflower.
Now we get to taste the fruits of our labors (and have another glass of wine).
By the next morning, my stomach is just ROLLING – I think it was a little too much butter for me, but boy it was GOOD!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hot Spiced Wine

This is a recipe I forgot to share from our party, oh four months ago. I didn't get any good photos of it and I wasn't even sure how much people actually liked it. Perhaps they just drank it because it was there and had alcohol in it? But later someone told me they had tried to recreate it at a different holiday party, so it must not have been that bad. And having a food blog, aren't I sort of obligated to share the recipes I make up that turn out at least halfway decent? In lieu of an absent photo of my apparently spectacular mulled wine, I will share the most fabulous white elephant gift ever: a wine decanter with five wine glasses (the sixth must have broken) with an etching of a clipper ship on them all. Megan's boyfriend Eric told me he thought they were tacky. I think they're fan-tastic. The decanter is displayed on the mantle and the wine glasses are tucked in our gun-rack-turned-display case (thank you gay landlords!).
OK, back to what you really came here for, a recipe for (and story about) boozed up spiced wine.

The inspiration for the spiced wine is thanks to Il Spazio and Krista. The restaurant/brewery opened up in Kirksville, Mo., sometime around my junior year of college. And on several occasions, my roommate Krista would come home raving about "fuerte" beer, but the best by far was the seasonal hot spiced wine. Kirksville was in a part of Missouri that is the recipient of a lot of wind and our apartment that year was effing freezing (we paid $500 one month for gas and we weren't even warm), so hot spiced wine seemed like the only respite in a long, dark and very cold winter.

This past December seems like ages ago now that it's 70 degrees outside, but dang it was cold and I was determined to make this hot mulled wine. I borrowed my mom's giant crockpot and blew like $150 on food an accoutrements--even though I bought the cheapest wine that Wohlner's stocks. That was a mistake first of all because the wine was (obviously) not that great, and secondly because as I was bringing the groceries up to my apartment I bumped the sack on the stairs and one of the wine bottles crunched into a million pieces with red wine dripping all down the stairs. Thankfully this happened outside.

Things turned out all right in the end. I was right in thinking even bad wine could be improved with sugar, amaretto and apple cider. And even though the counter was covered in sticky grime from spilled "punch," the wine was gone and someone asked for the recipe. So here it is. The only thing I would change would be buying nicer wine--but not too nice. (Jesse, perhaps you can make a recommendation here?)

Hot Spiced Wine: 2 750-milliliter bottles of red wine (Burgundy is usually recommended) 1 cup amaretto liqueur (brandy would be a good choice here, I just happen to be the sort of person that has amaretto hanging around the house) a lot of apple cider (if you're actually measuring I would guess it to be about 5 cups) 1 cup granulated sugar 1 tablespoon mulling spices (these include black peppercorns, orange peel, cloves, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, star anise and allspice--I saved about $100 by buying them in a container labled "mulling spices") In a crockpot on high heat, pour wine, amaretto and cider. Dump in the sugar. Stir until sugar is mostly dissolved. Place whole mulling spices into a cheesecloth or one of those metal tea balls. Allow 30 minutes for wine to heat up. Turn crockpot down to medium and serve. If you're fancy, garnish with whole cinnamon sticks.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Quick Chai Tea Latte

I've been into tea lately. More specifically chai tea. It happened when I bought some cardamom when I didn't really know what it was and thought I might want it for this dish. But upon smelling it, I knew it was all wrong for mussels and all right for tea.
My first experience with chai tea was in India. It was brought to us in a small teacup and was immediately pungeant. Nothing like the watered down version served at Starbucks or even my own Crane Coffee. They were all missing the cardamom (and probably heavy cream). My mom and sister use boxes of Oregon Chai to make hot tea nearly every afternoon in the winter. But it's me, and I wanted to do things the hard way.
So I boil some water on the stove, heat half a cup of milk in the the microwave and steap my earl grey decaf tea. For the chai part, I toss in cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom and a bit of sugar. It's pretty good, but one of those spices doesn't dissolve and it's really just not quite right (I suspect the ginger). Anyone have any suggestions for a quick, one-cup chai tea recipe?
P.S. I like how this photos are so pretty and artful, but then the tea is called bigelow. Like Deuce Bigelow Male Jigalo (that one movie--I never saw it). Classy. Recommendations for a better tea are welcome as well.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Banana Bread

Quick breads and soup go together in the Seyler household, and it is a beautiful thing. The two standards breads are banana and a blueberry tea bread that never quite cooked through. And the soup could be anything. Tortellini, split pea soup with ham, chicken noodle. It didn't matter. It was comfort for a gloomy day in pre-spring (much like what's going on in Omaha right now). Banana Bread: from Better Homes and Gardens Baking
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
dash ground nutmeg
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (4 or 5 bananas)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cooking oil

Pre-heat oven to 350.
In one bowl, mix all dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mash up the banana, eggs, sugar and cooking oil until it's only a little lumpy. Add the wet mixture to the dry, stir with a wooden spoon until it's only a little lumpy (if you want nuts, add them here). Do not over-mix. Transfer to greased 9x5x3-inch pan. Bake for 55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Monday, March 9, 2009

It's Chicken Noodle Soup Y'all

Some really great things have been happening lately. And I mean really great. So great I can't even handle it. In one day my name was drawn out of a hat to go on a trip to Africa for work. (Let's contemplate the ridiculousness/awesomeness of that in subsequent postings.) And then I got home and had a package sitting on top of my mailbox that signalled my acceptance into a graduate school for creative writing. I did the dance, running up the stairs, calling my mom completely out of breath, lusting after fabulous life in Boston ... and then I freaked out. I thought about my entire future (or at least two years of it) and it was like in tetris when you advance so far and allthetilesstartfallingdownatonceandyoucan'tstopitandit'soutofcontrolandthen game over.

But I got a grip, which I subsequently lost again. Thanks to some coaching by Lindsey, I've got a plan that does not involve an existential crisis.

This will probably come as no surprise, but I use food as a coping mechanism. And last night, what I needed was to cope. And chop things into tiny pieces. And I'm getting a cold, so soup.

Chicken Noodle Soup: 1 tablespoon olive oil 1/2 large onion, chopped 1/2 cup carrots, chopped (or one or two whole carrots) 1 garlic clove, chopped 4 cups chicken stock 2 pounds chicken (this is approximate, I used one leg and it wasn't enough) 1/2 cup orzo pasta (or 1 cup egg noodles) 1 teapsoon dried parsley 1 teapsoon dried basil

Heat oil in medium skillet on medium heat, saute carrots and onion for a few minutes until onion is a bit translucent. Saute garlic for 1 minute. Add chicken stock, bring to boil and reduce to simmer. Add chicken. I added a chicken leg, boiled it for about 15 minutes until it was cooked through, removed it from the stock and chopped it separately to throw back into the soup. You could probably just use chicken breast or any other meat and chop it beforehand and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

On a heavy simmer, toss in the pasta--I added 1 whole cup of orzo (which is rice-shaped pasta) and it took over, so don't do that. Continue to simmer until pasta is cooked through according to directions. Add salt and pepper to taste and top with parsley and basil (I'm Italian, this is how we roll).

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Springtime Asparagus

At first thought, this recipe is too easy to share. Does it even count as cooking? But if I could convert even one person to an advocate for this strange vegetable, then it would be worth it. Am I too dramatic? It's just a vegetable after all. But asparagus marks the onset of spring. I'll be bold (and probably incorrect) and say it's the first vegetable of the year to ripen. And what a strange vegetable it is. If my mother had served this to me in my formative years I probably would have tried to feed it to the dog under the table. I mean, it makes your pee smell. That's weird. But sauteed just right, it is crisp and substantive. The simplicity of ingredients lets the stalk shine. It is my all-time favorite vegetable.
Sauteed Asparagus:
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
handful of asparagus
pepper To cut asparagus, take one stalk and bend it until it breaks. Use this as a guide when chopping off the ends of the rest of the stalks. You don't really want to eat the bottom of the asparagus because it's pretty starchy. To pick good asparagus at the store make sure they are firm and nicely colored like the ones in the top photo. I prefer thinner asparagus.
Heat olive oil or butter in a skillet on medium heat. Add asparagus and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the vegetable turns a brighter green and you can see that a bit of the asparagus has been toasted brown. You do not want to over-cook asparagus like they do at restaurants. Limp asparagus is an atrocity in my opinion, so I wouldn't recommend steaming it.
I've also cooked asparagus with these ingredients in foil on the grill. Asparagus goes well with steak and potatoes.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Cheese Barn

My sister Allison has been studying abroad in Orvieto, Italy, since January through her architecture program at K-State. I've been hasseling her for (literally) months to write a blog about this cooking class she took (apparently it was required, tough life). Finally she comes through, however sans photos. Thus I resorted to stealing them from her blog, her friends blogs and facebook. Sorry friends of Al, she left me no choice. Sidenote: Do yourselves a favor and check this blog out. Fantastic photos. At any rate, here is her first in a series of blogs.
As a study abroad student in Orvieto, Italy, I am learning more about culture and people than I ever could have at university in Manhattan, Kan. As food is such a monumental part of every culture, it was imperative that my classmates and I participate in a day of cooking lessons with a real, live Italian chef. Chef Lorenzo of the Zeppelin in Orvieto is an Italian who studied in the U.S. and seems to know everyone connected with food in Umbria. As part of our cooking class, we toured a local cheese factory and an olive oil mill. Italians love to tell stories, and the more ridiculous the better. Perhaps it is their connection with Greek and Roman mythology, or maybe it’s because of the abundance of absurd leaders, egotistical artists and larger than life characters that bring about these stories and legends. Whatever the cause, Italians and their stories have also become a part of their food. Some of which we heard while touring what my mother describes as “the cheese barn.”
After looking around the factory at all the machinery necessary to the cheese making process, our guides took us into the aging rooms. They have three different storage rooms where cheese is aged at the factory. In the first room there were racks of cheese wheels and a faint musty smell in the air. In the second room the cheese was starting to get a little moldy and take on a brighter color. In the third room the smell intensified and all the wheels of cheese were covered in mold. The differences between the cheeses that they make at this factory come from how the cheese is aged. The longer it is aged the stronger the flavor is. Other differences come from the way the cheese is aged. One kind of cheese was soaked in red wine before being aged. Another variety was covered in hay to add a more rustic flavor. One of the more unusual varieties was aged in a cave. We were given samples of almost every kind of cheese the factory produces. We were even given a sample of the most expensive cheese made in Italy, which costs 60 euros for a kilo.
Chef Lorenzo told us the story behind this cheese. Apparently when Julius Caesar was fighting the Gauls in northern Europe, the Romans on the Italian peninsula were fighting off attacks from the Turks. In order to save their beloved cheese from the merciless pirates, they buried the cheese underground. When the Turks had been run out of Roman territory, the Romans dug up their cheese and were surprised by how delicious the cheese had become. To this day, the Italians age cheese in holes in the ground. Although it may sound absurd, I can’t blame them because it was delicious.
Note in the comments how much you hate or love Al for spending four months in Italy.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Garbanzo Bean Stew

I thought I was going to have my Monday routine back in action: come home from work, work out, cook, watch Gossip Girl. Alas, Gossip Girl was a rerun--for the fourth week in a row! Come on people. Don't they know I need my guilty pleasures.
I suppose I shouldn't complain because the rest of my routine worked out. Dinner was great and easy. And I even managed to get over my fear of cooked spinach. Cooked spinach brings up bad a singular bad memory for me. I swear it happened, but my dad swears it didn't.
I was five and we were living in the rented house in LaVista. Mom must have been working, so Dad was making dinner or reheating something and it was, dun dun dun, cooked spinach. I swear it was so bad I gagged and threw up. Probably I just spit it out of my mouth. So I got mad at my dad, probably made some sort of fit-temper-tantrum thing and ran away from home. I only made it to the bottom of the street before Dad came and got me. All this drama over a bunch of limp spinach that (to be fair) probably was pretty bad. I had major issues with vegetables as a child. Come to think of it, this is actually a really great memory because I have always wanted to dramatically leave somewhere and have someone chase after me--just like in the movies. You could say it's a fantasy of mine. I haven't added any sort of wilted green to anything since then, even though it seems to be so popular of late. I'm over it. So mom, I think it's time that you got over your childhood fear/hatred for beans and make this garbanzo bean stew. You can work your way up to lima beans.
Garbanzo Bean Stew: adapted from Food and Wine
10 ounces fresh spinach
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 onion, chopped
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 15-ounce cans of garbanzo beans or chickpeas

In a medium skillet, bring a pot of water to a boil. Drop in spinach and simmer for 2 or 3 minutes until wilted, stirring. Drain spinach in colander and use a paper towel to squeeze out some of the water. Coarsley chop.
In a small mixing bowl, mince the garlic. Mix garlic with turmeric, salt and pepper. Add in 1/4 cup of the water from one of the cans of chickpeas. Add paprika, cumin, cloves and chile powder and blend together.
In the medium skillet, saute onions with tomatoes (undrained). Allow some of the juice to evaporate, so saute for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic mixture and the rest of the chickpeas and it's water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Add the spinach and simmer for 15 minutes or until garbanzo beans are cooked through and split. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

The Best Brownies Ever Made

Last Sunday was a banner day for the Seyler's. My mom made the best meatloaf, and my sister made the best brownies to ever come forth from an oven. She even messed up and put in half the chocolate, and they were still amazing. My family polished off the entire tray of brownies in one afternoon. My favorite moment was when I walked into the kitchen and caught my grandma sneaking up to snatch another brownie on the sly. She is a chocolate fiend. My mom made another batch the next day with the proper amount of chocolate, and (of course) they were twice as amazing. She doesn't even like chocolate. The brownies are dense and chocolatey with a thick, crispy top--the reason everyone loves brownies. Here's Emily showing off her masterpiece:

Fudge Brownie Supreme: taken from the All-American Cookie Book that my mom found at a thrift store 1 stick butter plus 2 tablespoons 5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate 1 cup sugar 1/3 cup light brown sugar 3 eggs 2 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 2/3 cup flour 1 1/2 tablespoon cocoa 1/4 teaspoon salt Microwave and nearly melt butter and chocolate. Mix in sugars and eggs/vanilla. Mix in remaining dry ingredients. Pour into greased 8x8 pan. Bake 350 for 28 minutes. It has a great gooey center and an outer crust for texture.