Saturday, February 26, 2011


I found this recent article in the Atlantic interesting. As someone who enjoys food writing (reading it as well as making attempts at writing it) it's a fascinating look at what it means to be a foodie, enjoy the food experience, as well as write about it:


Monday, February 21, 2011

Eating Healthy and Eating Cheap(er)

I love food. So a lot of my money naturally goes to filling up my belly with delicious goodness. In a city like Boston it's so, SO easy to abandon the kitchen and order moderately priced take-out every single day... and when one is tired and over-worked and doesn't have energy for cooking, those menus look better and better. Indian, please. Oh, no, wait, Thai. Oh, or pizza! Thin crust! Wait... wait... there's an Anna's down the street... I want a burrito. *sigh*

But while there's tons of great, easy food that can come right to my door, I love dining out even more. Perhaps if I can do a little more homecookin' I can convince the boyfriend that we deserve more date nights out. 

So in a effort to be a little healthier, and save a little cash (not that Whole Foods is inexpensive by any means, cooking at home can be pricey too), I'm trying to reconnect with my kitchen. The problem I've had this past year is that when I cook it's a big production. It takes hours, I labor over recipes and chop veggies til my fingers hurt. Ok, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but the meals I have been making take time. And time is a precious thing right now...

I decided what I really need are some quickie recipes. But I don't want to sacrifice flavor either. Ramen noodles might have cut it in my younger years, but not anymore.

So I scoured my cookbooks for some relatively easy, moderately priced recipes and planned out some meals for the rest of my week. What's cookin' at casa de Jillian?

Pasta with Shitake Mushrooms & Panchetta in Cream Sauce
Puttanesca Bianca (kalamata olives, anchovy and caper sauce)
Penne with Spinach & Ricotta Cheese
Wild Mushroom and Rice Soup
Black & Blue Beef Quesadillas (with blue cheese)
Veggie stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Off to Whole Foods I go!

Do you have quick go-to recipes that are somewhat inexpensive and don't take hours to prepare? I would love to hear them! Share away! 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

In Which We Brew

I waited years for this day. I dreamed about it while I lived in my little studio apartment. I thought and I planned and I imagined what it would be like. And now that I have a big kitchen, the day finally arrived -- HOMEBREW DAY!

Instead of going into elaborate detail about the brewing process (*snore*) I’ll give you a little pictoral showcase of our handiwork.

Our first brew was called Liquid Desert. We got the recipe from the Homebrew Emporium in Cambridge, where we also picked up all the ingredients and supplies. (You can find the recipe through the Homebrew Emporium’s website here: No brewing kit for us on our first time! We picked out the grains, malts, hops, and followed the directions (mostly). We erred a bit in our first batch, but errors are to be expected! We learned from it and have moved on. But even with errors, Batch 1 turned out delicious.

Since that fateful day, we’ve brewed 3 more batches of beer. First we did a second attempt at Liquid Desert (which we recently bottled), then an Imperial Stout (currently in the first fermenter), and then a Nut Brown Ale (in its first fermenter). I’m very excited about the Nut Brown Ale... I want to play around with the recipe in the future, adding some things like Hazelnut, Vanilla, Cocoa, Raspberry, and the like. Mmmmmm Hazelnut Vanilla Nut Brown.

The one thing I've learned so far about brewing is that you have to be patient, there is a LOT of waiting! But, hey, I've been waiting years to start brewing so what's a few more weeks? :)

Without further ado, I bring you BEER:

Mashing up the Cocoa Beans

All crushed up.

We didn't have a big enough pot to handle all the ingredients (we've
since purchased one) so we had to brew two pots at once, thus had to
divide all ingredients in half. 

Steeping the grains.

Grains steeping.

Boiling hops in with the grains.

Of course, kitty wants to sit on the kitchen mat and watch what we're doing.

After the hour boil of the hops cooling the pot down in the sink.

More lessons learned: buy a strainer so you don't have to reuse
the grain sack to try to strain as you pour into the fermenter.

Straining/pouring into the first fermenter.

After two weeks of sitting in the closet it's time to transfer over to the
secondary fermenter!
Utoh, here's where things went wrong. We SHOULD HAVE added this
malt to the original boil. We wonder if we can just toss it now. Hmmm...

It worked. (Sort of.) It was very clumpy. But it didn't ruin our beer
like we thought it might.

Taste test!

Wow, sludge.

Lots more sludge.

Secondary fermenter. A few more weeks
in the closet.

Siphoning so we can bottle.

Getting ready to bottle.

Putting on the caps.

FINAL STEP: Wait (again) then drink & enjoy! Cheers!

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