closing the good journal: good yummy times

I should explain myself.

As fun as the world of food blogging was, it's time to hang up my online apron for the pure pleasures of donning a real one at home. Fear not that I'm no longer in the kitchen. While blogging has been sporadic at best in 2011, cooking has remained my joy, my stress relief, and my source of inspiration. I'm simply not writing about it any more. Life is entirely too full and too beautiful to stop and chronicle it every night.

This was a blast though. I had many posts that became quite popular. With the exception of ones boosted by Real Simple's food Twitter, here are my top three:

coming to you from the world's smallest kitchen

the evolution of eating well

bacon: i'm in love with a butcher

Good yummy times. And they don't stop here. I'll continue to show off good eats on Twitter. You can follow me @LifefromApt7.

Thanks for reading. Cheers!


what's good: indian-style home-fries

I was inspired to use my Indian spices after an evening of cooking spicy appetizers with my friend and culinary genius, Mark.

I grabbed my Flavor Bible to check some good flavor combinations.

I had turmeric, garlic salt, cumin and black cracked pepper. That would do.

I peeled, shopped and shocked my potatoes (boiled for 10 minutes, iced for 10 minutes). I heated some allspice and sunflower oil (it's the closest I had to canola) and combined some flour with my spices. Tossed the potatoes in the flour and fried them in the pan.

They fried easily and quickly, turning a curry yellow. Crunchy on the outside, warm and soft on the inside and spicy all around.



Pots and Pans!

You know you're a food nerd when pots and pans get you excited.

After three weeks of surviving with one skillet and a one-quart saucepan purchased with a Williams and Sonoma gift card, I have inherited my old roommate's cookware.

It's almost too big for my tiny stove top.

Praise da' Lawd.

Let the real cooking begin.



A Thai Breakfast

More of my one-skillet wonders.

Potatoes cooked in coconut oil, chopped peppers, some garlic salt and pepper. When it was done, I cleaned out the pan and made a quick side of scrambled eggs.



the "make due" style of cooking

So yes, I've moved into a new place. And, while I love it intensely, I realized within a few days of being here that I went from a culinary Wonderland to the ghetto. What I mean by that is... my kitchen in the old place was fully stocked. Fully.

Every kind of pot and pan. Graters. Peelers. Waffle irons. Crock pots. Full sized oven. At one point, we even had a bread maker.

Now... um. I have the opposite of that.

I arrived at my new place with a few dishes, one skillet, a colander, and a corkscrew. I didn't even have a microwave.

My cooking style for these first few weeks has been "make due." I pulled together whatever I could to make a meal. This was my first quasi-masterpiece.

I sauteed the one clove of garlic I had, two old, crispy bay leaves, and a handful of chopped onions in olive olive. When the onions softened, I added some pork sausage, tomatoes, dried basil, oregano, kosher salt and pepper, put a lid on it and let it all simmer for 15 minutes. My old tried and true tomato sauce.

But I had no noodles. Well, I had flour, eggs and water, but no counter space to roll it out on.

Solution? I find some old lasagna sheets, break them apart and put the pieces in the sauce. It cooked for another 10 minutes until the pasta was al dente.

The next day at work, people asked me what I was eating for lunch. I said, "ingenuity".



coming to you from the world's smallest kitchen

I've been absent, but with a good excuse. I moved from a large townhouse in the suburbs to a tiny apartment in the city. It's great except for...

I have the world's smallest kitchen. Perhaps not in a Guinness World Record kind of way, but it's small. Probably smaller than yours.

Yeah, it's that small. I do like the glass cabinet though.

Also, meet the world's smallest gas oven.

Somehow I managed to fit a baker's rack in here, because I literally have no counter space. How will I roll out my pasta dough?

Sometimes I have to get inventive with where I put things...

Hmmmm... Help?



a natural hair journey... in pictures

I don't talk much about my hair, because frankly, I don't like to. I cut all my hair off a year ago precisely because I didn't want my hair to be a big deal any more. However, today is the anniversary of my big chop, so I'm getting a little reflective...

Here I was before. Shoulder-length, relaxed hair, which I've sported since I was 12 years old.

Isn't she lovely?


what's good: cilantro coconut sauce and jasmine rice

A can of coconut milk has been taunting me from my cabinet for a month now. I finally gave in with this lovely dish, based off of a recipe from A Taste of Thai.

Naturally, I jazz it up a bit.

First all, jasmine rice instead of noodles. And in lieu of shrimp, I added potatoes and chopped leeks.

It's creamy and addictive. I need to save some for lunch this week, but I'm not sure it will make it through the night.



Name That Soup

Go ahead and guess...


what's good: breakfast with the crepes

When I started cooking seriously in late 2009, one of the first things I made on the regular was crepes. It started with a few flawed attempts as pancakes.

Vanilla Crepes with raspberry jam and powdered sugar

An early and steady friend in my crepe breakfasts was the All Recipes recipe Vanilla Crepes. I still use it today. It's completely foolproof (trust me, I've tried to ruin it) and adjustable. I've used almond extract instead of vanilla and it gives the crepe a whole new dynamic.

As for toppings, I've used any available jam in the house; however, my staple is the lemon curd found at Trader Joe's. If you don't have a jar of this in your home... well, you should. It is the perfect spread for crepes and doubles as the main ingredient in the best lemon bars you'll ever eat.

So yes, crepes. It's what's for breakfast or even dessert if you'd like. And it also comes in vegan.



what's good: grilled cheese and tomato soup

As I write this, I've been groaning with pleasure into my food for the last ten minutes.

Behold the power of a grilled cheese and bacon sandwich with tomato soup.

Soup and sandwich is nothing new. I'm not reinventing the wheel here, but the stars aligned on this one.

I used this recipe from Food Network: Homemade Tomato Soup by Michael Chiarello. However, a few changes...

First, I didn't roast my tomatoes. I think if you're dealing with fresh tomatoes then it's necessary, but canned? Nah, drain it a little and keep going.

Second, as you know I would, I added chopped peppers and a teaspoon of the juice the peppers are in. To call it "a kick" is an understatement. Spicy hotness.

Third and last, I never puree my tomato soup. I like the carrots, celery and onion to still have some crunch when I get a spoonful. I like the texture of the tomatoes after they've simmered. To me, the flavor is bolder and tangibly unfolds in your mouth.

As for the sandwich, I've done this before, if you recall the grilled gouda experiment. Same recipe somewhat. I used a French loaf, sharp cheddar cheese and cherry wood bacon.

I cook the bacon in the oven and use some of the drained fat in the skillet along with a 1/4 of a tablespoon of butter to brown the bread. Outstandingly delicious.

I'm finished with my soup and sandwich now, but I'm still thinking about it. And with any luck, I'll dream of it tonight.



and now a word from the script

I love The Script. I just can't get this band out of my system. This song was on a loop in my head for a whole day last week. And I always say that the only way to exorcise a song demon is to play it... or post the music video on your blog.

"The Man Who Can't Be Moved" by The Script



the evolution of eating well 2.0

I'm eating a salad.

I know, I can't believe it either. See, I even have proof.

I know exactly how this all began. My old job didn't really have a dress code -- at least, not one that was enforced. As much as a dream as that sounds like, for me, it lead to fashion impotence. Near the end, I was wearing hoodies, jeans and sneakers.

Any how, as of this week, I'm back in business casual, and my business casual clothes are a might bit snug. Far more so than they were a year or so ago.

I blame no one but myself.

I haven't run longer than six miles since Thanksgiving. In December, my job was unnaturally stressful. And to boot, there was a surplus of cakes and candy orbiting my atmosphere.

I am by no means fat and strongly abhor counting calories and numbers on the scale. It just became clear to me that perhaps the next step in my evolution is to take my cooking to healthier heights.

Hence the salad.

But I make it worthy of me.

I sauteed some shrimp in olive oil and some random Italian Seasoning. I took big handfuls of mixed greens and tossed them in more olive oil, a few dashes of balsamic vinegar, season salt, cracked black pepper and a squeeze of a lemon. Add shrimp and tah-dah. And it was delicious.

So far, I like eating well.



the portable lunch

For some time now, I've had a work commute of roughly seven minutes. Now, I have a new job and my commute is 25. I'm not complaining, but needless to say, I can't go home for lunch any more.

So now, I'm brown baggin' it.

Pasta and Tomato Sauce with my trusty lunch bag

The last few nights I've made dinner for two: me now and me at lunch the next day.

Now, I've said in the past, that there are a few rules to leftovers. Spicy is good, avoid cheesy, etc. The fresh pasta is doing well the next day, by the way. However, I definitely need more help.

What kinds of meals make great next day lunches?



what's good: glorious dippable bread - the olive oil edition

The first post on glorious dippable bread was more rich than usual. This is a better picture of how I eat bread on a regular basis.

The bread is neo-Tuscan boule. The olive oil is layered with red pepper flakes, grated parmesiano-reggiano, black pepper, fresh oregano and basil. The wine is a shamelessly cheap cabernet sauvignon.

On a light day, this can be dinner. With guests, it's a side dish or appetizer. Any day of the week, it's a good thing.



just enjoy the show

Every time too much is going on or I'm tempted to worry... this song comes on. And life is suddenly in perspective.

"I've got to let it go / And just enjoy the show"



what's good: corn chowder with dumplings soup

This is .

Shape Magazine's Corn Chowder

If you'd like a version less healthy, do what I do and add some bacon and a few shakes of your Tapitio bottle.

As for your dumplings... A simple All Recipes version will do.

And be liberal with the black pepper.




recipe-share: shrimp bruschetta

This is great and so simple. In under 10 ingredients and less than 30 minutes, you too can enjoy shrimp bruschetta.

Check out Shrimp Bruschetta from Life's Ambrosia. A spicy Italian appetizer that anyone can make.



jamey johnson: a return to real country

I love all kinds of music and I've admired country from a distance. Then, I was briefly involved with a guy who loved country music. After we split, I vowed to leave the twang as well.

However, I found an artist who drew me back.

I gotta give my brother props on this one, because I wouldn't have discovered Jamey Johnson on my own. I knew the name because I saw it listed on the Grammy nominations; however, I didn't listen to his music until my brother shared a few songs from Jamey's nominated new album.

I told my brother, it's like Johnny Cash / God-loves-a-drunk / old school honky-tonk bar music. Like, the way it's supposed to be. This guy makes most of the country singers out today look like they belong in a boy band.

I still don't listen to much country. But I love me some Jamey Johnson.



running with the weather

Running outdoors has turned me into a weather girl.

I used to never pay attention to the weather. If you're not an outdoors person and it takes two feet of snow for work to close, what temperature it is outside matters little.

But now, I run. I canceled my gym membership and took to the streets for my fitness, which means mother nature and I need to get to know each other a little better.

I haven't had a really good run probably since my half marathon. The temperatures took an unusual nose-dive here and got as low as 19 degrees some mornings. I learned the hard way that you don't get as much oxygen in the winter as you do in the summer. Thus, running becomes more difficult. I've had a few miles here or there, but nothing good since my Thanksgiving six-miler.


in need of a reSOULution

Welcome to the new year. Let the promises you don't intend to keep begin.

This is the time of the year when the gyms are packed. Everyone is making good on their new year's resolutions. Then by about mid-February, it all goes back to normal. Ideas of betterment fall by the wayside. I don't want that and I know you don't either.

New Year's Day is our one collective shot. It's our second chance. We can decide to make changes that will stick, goals that will be achieved, differences that can be felt all year long. So much so that, December 31, 2011 will arrive and find you better off. As though you made-over not just your minds or your body, but your souls.
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