Monday, May 30: Reptile Garden/Cold Blooded Creatures
May 31st, 2016 by Katekoster

This weekend we didn’t spend a lot of time cooking a whole meal: it was really hot and we got invited to barbecues both Saturday and Sunday night.  (Thank you Patrick, Virginia & Wyeth: we are definitely trying to recreate your potatoes; and thank you Russ & Erica: we are definitely trying to recreate your grilled lamb).  We did make dessert for both barbecues, and lunch for the family on Sunday.  But most of the time we weren’t in the pool, or playing soccer, we had to plant our garden.  Wow.  Who knew that planting a garden would be such a reptile adventure.  We started off well enough, but then: Yikes. Baby Snake under the weed cloth:


We managed to gently shoo it out of the garden and planted zinnias, peas, carrots and potatoes (that was Saturday).  Then we took a break to go swimming and make brownies for Patrick & Virginia.

20160528_100840     20160528_135147   20160528_143428

The next morning we went out bright and early to the garden and there was this large black mound at the garden fence.  We investigated and discovered an enormous snapping turtle (like a foot long!).  Not only that but it was laying eggs (in front of OUR garden).  We helped it a little by misting it with water and untangling its leg from the weed cloth.  After it buried its eggs, it went back to our lake.  We are excited about watching the eggs hatch, although a little nervous about having a garden full of snapping turtles.

20160529_085245    20160529_082314

Finally (after the turtle left), we got to plant: we planted zucchini, more peas, kale, pumpkins, sunflowers, lettuce and more kale. Whew it was hot, hard work (Mom did a lot of it…)

Here is the final result (doesn’t look like much yet…but things don’t grow overnight. 🙂


To thank mom for her help in the garden, we made chilaquiles for her.


She loved then and Dad went back for thirds!!!



Dinner No. 55: Saturday, May 21: Birthday Dinner for Mom
May 23rd, 2016 by Katekoster

Tonight we wanted to make a special dinner for mom so we asked her what she wanted: she said she wanted us to make her ribs, a green vegetable and a fruit-centered dessert.  So we decided to make her Cantonese-style ribs, bok choy, and strawberry pie.  We also made corn-on-the cob in case the bok choy didn’t work out AND because we wanted to try out the new cuisinart we gave her, we made hummus as an appetizer.

The full meal

The full meal

We actually made the strawberry pie first (in the morning) because it needs to set for a few hours.  It’s a combination of fresh strawberries and cooked strawberries (you mash them up and cook them with a little sugar and corn starch to make a lumpy sauce)

20160521_094033  20160521_095426  20160521_100313  20160521_100304  20160521_101906

We also had to start early for the ribs because they need to marinate for at least two hours.  We have made these once before and mom loved it so I guess that’s why she chose them again. The marinade is pretty simple: chopped garlic, chopped ginger, hoisin sauce and soy sauce.  You let the ribs marinate for 2 hours to overnight and then you cook them in a pan with water in it.  After an hour of cooking, you brush them with honey and cook for 10 more minutes…DELICIOUS!


20160521_151922     20160521_152322   20160521_152513

20160521_153643  20160521_153849  20160521_154041 20160521_153936 20160521_191419


For the bok choy we just made a fairly simple preparation. We had chopped extra garlic and ginger when we made the marinade so we added that to olive oil and then cooked the bok choy (it really cooked down so we added spinach).  We also added some soy sauce.

20160521_195633  20160521_200300

For the hummus, we first minced the garlic then we put the garlic, sea salt, ground cumin, lemon and olive oil in the cuisinart.  While it mixed those ingredients up, we peeled the chick peas (they have this thin skin which you don’t have to take off, but if you do, it makes the hummus creamier.) Once the chick peas were peeled, we put them in the mixer and ground until smooth. Then we scooped it into a dish and added olive oil and paprika.  We served it with pita chips.

20160521_180450   20160521_183137   20160521_183710   20160521_183937   20160521_185523

Here’s the plate we made for mom (and the dessert)

20160521_202223  20160521_101929


Sunday May 15, 2016: Stove Top Blueberry Crisp
May 16th, 2016 by Katekoster

Tonight we didn’t have time to cook a full meal — too much soccer, prep for our piano recital and homework but we wanted to help out and make something tasty and quick for dessert.  So we experimented with making a stove top blueberry crisp.  We love blueberry crisp and apple crisp and pretty much any kind of crisp but it takes a lot of prep and cooking time.  But earlier this week we had made a stove top granola that was very simple so we wondered if we could use that granola as the “crisp” topping.

The granola recipe is very simple. Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 2 tablespoons honey and 2 tablespoons brown sugar about 2 minutes until bubbling…then stir in 2 cups oats. (You can also add chopped walnuts if you like.)  Stir until oats are coated. Let cool slightly.  (If you were making granola, you could add raisins)


For the filling we also decided to cook the fruit (this time blueberries, canned apple sauce and pears) on the stove top with a little butter and brown sugar.  The results were pretty good but next time we want to use all fresh fruit. The fruit filling was a little runny so we stirred in about 1/2 cup of the oat mix.



Then we plated…we put the berry mix in the bottom of four ramekins and then we added the oat mix. We garnished with a single blueberry. Whipped cream would have been good but alas we had none.



Read the rest of this entry »

Thursday, May 12, 2016: Having fun in the kitchen
May 12th, 2016 by Katekoster

Sometimes you just have to have fun in the kitchen and try new things.  This week we did a lot of that.  Our experiments included 1) using chickpea water to make an awesome dessert; 2) trying to make tofu tasty and 3) playing around with vegetable scraps.

First, and maybe the coolest: we transformed the water in a can of chickpeas into glossy meringues.

Chickpea water meringues

Chickpea water meringues

The steps are shown below, but essentially you drain the water from a can of chickpeas, reserving the chickpeas for later.  You put the chickpea water in a mixer and whip for 10 -15 minutes: it goes from foamy to stiff peaks.  Add in 2 tablespoons of sugar and some vanilla extract and bake in a 250 degree oven for at least an hour and until firm and dry.  And yes, they really do taste like egg white meringues!

20160511_205615  20160511_205631  20160511_205806  20160511_205832

20160511_210007  20160511_210418  20160511_210555  20160511_210749

Second I (Max) tried cooking with tofu.  First I tasted it: sort of like feta cheese without any taste.  So I decided to add some flavors.  I sauteed red onions in olive oil and then added shredded kale.  After that had cooked a bit, I added the tofu and sauteed for a bit.  I tasted and it definitely still needed flavor.  So I added soy sauce.  Much better.  But it still was a little soft.  Mom suggested pumpkin seeds so I added those and it was delicious.  Mom ate it all!

Tofu with kale, red onion and pumpkin seeds

Tofu with kale, red onion and pumpkin seeds

Third I (Alex) wanted to do something with some leftover vegetable scraps that mom had frozen.  There were cauliflower stems, broccoli stems, red pepper bits, mushroom stocks, onions, cilantro, carrots, lemongrass and probably some other stuff.  Mom suggested I make stock with them and that we save it for a night when were making curry or another Asian inspired dish.  So here’s what we did:

Vegetable Stock

Vegetable Stock

We simmered the vegetables in 4 cups of water for about an hour. Then we let the mix cool slightly.

Asian Vegetable Broth

Asian Vegetable Broth

Then we strained it and this is the final product.  Can’t wait to use it (it has a faintly cilantro/lemongrassy flavor with hints of red pepper) so I am thinking of using it a Thai curry sauce.



Dinner No. 54: Sunday, May 8, 2016: Happy Mother’s Day!
May 9th, 2016 by Katekoster

Today we were very busy.  We started out by giving Mom breakfast in bed (first we let her go for a run, but then we made her get back in bed).  We made her a yogurt and berry parfait, a banana berry smoothie and included walnut-raspberry rugelach that we had bought at the Farmer’s Market yesterday.  She loved it.  We also got her lilacs, tulips, herb plants and a blue hydrangea plant so she was pretty happy.

Moms breakfast in bed

Then we came up with our menu for dinner: kale/brussel sprout salad (Mom’s favorite) with filet mignon and mashed potatoes (our favorite) with berries and  home-made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for dessert.  We made the cookies in the afternoon so we wouldn’t have to worry about dessert during dinner. And then, after Max’s soccer game and walking our dog, we started on dinner. The salad is pretty easy–just a lot of chopping.  And for the filet mignon, half we just put salt and pepper on and half we put a Texas Spice Rub (salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and paprika– you can also add ancho chile powder but we didn’t have any.  We grilled the steaks on the stove top and then finished them in the oven.

Here are the cookies:

20160508_162507  20160508_163107  20160508_183338

We’ll add more stuff tomorrow but Mom says it’s time for bed now (and since it’s MOTHER’S DAY we are listening to her for a change:)

20160508_191053  20160508_201114  20160508_201609


Saturday, May 7, 2016: Garden Prep
May 8th, 2016 by Katekoster

We are so excited because we are getting ready to plant our garden upstate.  We have two gardens upstate (protected by tall fences because there are a lot of deer up there).  One is our vegetable garden and the other is our flower/fruit tree garden (sometimes this is just the “weed” garden…we always manage to plant the vegetable garden but once in a while we just get too busy to plant the back garden…this year we are determined to plant both!)

The front garden is completely ready to plant (covered with weed cloth & bricks, and just waiting to make sure no more frost possible); the back garden still needs a little work but Mom said she’d help with that 🙂


We have ordered a lot of great vegetable seeds to plant here: kale, kalediscope carrots, peas, lettuce, pumpkins, zucchini and Yukon gold and fingerling potatoes.  We love growing potatoes because they are so much fun to dig up and we collect all the worms that we find when we dig the potatoes up and then go fishing in our pond with them.  We will also buy local tomato plants to plant when the weather gets warmer.  There is nothing like a fresh tomato from your garden!

Some of the vegetable seeds/plants we ordered today.

Some of the vegetable seeds/plants we ordered today.

For the flower garden, traditionally we have just planted sunflowers.  One year we even made a sunflower maze (see below). But this year we are planting sunflowers (of course), zinnias, delphinium and holly hock. Mom chose most of these flowers this year because she said they reminded her of her family’s garden in Iowa. We also have two apple treas and a peach tree in this garden.

Some of the flowers we ordered today

Some of the flowers we ordered today

Sunflower Garden from last year

Sunflower Garden from last year

In the middle of the Sunflower Maze

In the middle of the Sunflower Maze (two years ago)

Dinner No. 53: Monday May 2, 2016: Lamb chops etc.
May 3rd, 2016 by Katekoster

For tonight’s dinner we tried to use up some ingredients in the fridge to make a side “hash” to accompany one of our favorite meats: lamb loin chops.  We also made couscous and a spinach salad with bacon, tomato and avocado.  The hash was really fun to make: we used a left over baked potato (chopped up), chopped red onion, an orphan chicken sausage and some frozen corn…very tasty.  For the couscous we decided to try cooking it with chicken broth instead of just water.  The broth added a lot of flavor. And for the lamb chops? Just a quick marinade of olive oil, chopped garlic and salt and pepper was all we needed.  We grilled them on top of the stove and then finished them in the oven. Yum.

The full meal

The full meal

Leftovers for the hash

Leftovers for the hash

Chopping onions for the hash

Chopping onions for the hash

Gently sauteeing the hash

Gently sauteeing the hash

The hash...

The hash…

Grilling lamb chops -- we finished them in the oven

Grilling lamb chops — we finished them in the oven

View from the stove

View from the stove

»  Substance:WordPress   »  Style:Ahren Ahimsa