Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Red Beans and Rice

Just a few more days until the legislative session is complete. Then I have a few days to pack and get up to Washington, DC. I can't wait- despite the fact that I've thoroughly enjoyed my experience with the legislature so far. 

New Vampire Weekend and Daft Punk is rocking me hard. Frozen Synapse on the iPad is rattling my brain and making me happy. Trying to learn Eclipse, a board game which has been released on iPad. Enjoying the heck out of Plants v. Zombies. Embarrassingly so. The new Star Trek movie was really fun and I recommend it despite what the critics say. I haven't seen the Great Gatsby yet, but the Colbert Report episode about the book was really good. 

This is the stuff you think about during the lulls at work. Session is a funny beast- you may not have much concrete to do for the first eight hours of the day and then all of a sudden intent comes out and you're here past midnight. I like to think I do good work- I certainly try, but you hear stories of people who pass amendments and bills without knowing what they do or vote for something they sincerely oppose only to have their base storm in and demand they kill the bill they passed or change their vote or whatnot, and it scares me. I like being prepared and I want my boss to feel prepared, too. I'm fortunate to be in an office that takes its responsibilities seriously. I'll remember these past few months fondly.

Red Beans and Rice

This recipe came from: http://www.thecookingphotographer.com/2011/03/spicy-smoky-red-beans-and-garlic-brown.html. My girlfriend really enjoyed it and I thought it was really good, too... but it lacked something. It's vegetarian, so maybe I just wanted some meat in it. I don't know. 

2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Onion chopped up
5 stalks of Celery cut up
1 Orange Bell Pepper chopped up
4 Cloves Minced Garlic
2 Chipotle Peppers from a can of Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
1 tbsp Adobo Sauce from aforementioned can
2 tsp Thyme
1 tsp Oregano
0.25 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Liquid Smoke
12 oz can Pearl Snap (Lite Lager Beer made in Texas)
2 tsp Tabasco Sauce
3 Bay Leaves
4 (15.25 oz) Cans Red Kidney Beans
Salt and Pepper

Sautee Onion, Celery, and Bell Pepper in a heavy cast iron pot. Once they’re soft, add Garlic and cook until fragrant. Then add the Adobo Sauce, Chopped Chipotle Peppers, Thyme, Oregano, Cumin, and Liquid Smoke. Cook for a couple minutes, then add the Beer. Mmmm…. Beer. Also add the Tabasco Sauce, Bay Leaves, and Kidney Beans (just the Beans, strain the liquid). Simmer for 45 minutes.

Salt and Pepper to taste. Then remove 1 cup of Beans and junk and puree it. Return it to the pot. This will increase the thickness of the liquid.

1.5 c. Brown Rice
1 tbsp Butter
0.5 tsp Garlic Powder
0.5 tsp Onion Powder
Salt to Taste

While Beans are simmering, cook the Rice with the Butter and Spices.

Serve Beans on Rice like a vegetarian champion. 

***Here are my musings about the dish:
First of all, I'm not convinced that the Liquid Smoke does anything. I don't trust Liquid Smoke. According to Wikipedia, the European Food Safety Authority is investigating the safety of Liquid Smoke. I wasn't aware of this until just now, but it comes as no surprise. I don't like the stuff and would suggest Smoked Salt or just more Peppers to get this effect. Plus, we didn't use enough to make it taste particularly smokey to me. 

Second, I don't think adding Spices or Butter to the Rice does anything. I may be wrong, but there's enough stuff in this recipe to make it unnoticeable. 

Third: the beer didn't add much. They suggested Corona. That would add even less. I'm sure I would taste the difference if we didn't use it, but I'm not yet sold on using a Lite Lager. 

Lastly: try to have something lined up for the remaining Chipotle Peppers; I didn't and I suffered for it. Next time I make Chili, however, I'm totally using them since they're amazingly hot, smokey, and delicious! 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mint Chocolate Chip Kit-Kat Kookies

I don't believe I've mentioned this yet, but I'm heading to Washington, DC, in three weeks to start a summer internship with a very reputable private firm doing government relations work for them. I'm excited for any number of reason, but top of the list is definitely getting to live in DC for a summer. My girlfriend's going to be there, and we're actually going to share an apartment. which slightly scares me- commitments and all- but also excites me. I think we're going to have a pretty awesome time and I can't wait to see the Spy Museum! Our place is centrally located, so we can walk or ride out bikes to work each day quite easily, and I also found out that one of my best friends works just a couple minutes down the road from me, so we should be able to hang out a bunch. 

I still have to get through my current job at the capitol, but there's only two weeks left and even if we find ourselves practically living in our offices during this time, it's been an easy session overall and I can't complain. If anything, I want to complain that it hasn't been crazy enough! Still, I've learned a ton and have really enjoyed it. Maybe I'll have an office in that building one day, too...

Hey look a distraction!

These cookies turned out baller. I based it on Nestle Toll House's recipe that I found here: http://www.verybestbaking.com/recipes/18476/Original-NESTL%C3%89-TOLL-HOUSE-Chocolate-Chip-Cookies/detail.aspx

Mint Chocolate Chip Kit-Kat Kookies

1.125 c. Flour
0.5 tsp Baking Soda
0.5 tsp Salt
1 Stick Butter
0.2 c. Brown Sugar (all I had remaining)
0.55 c. Sugar
0.5 tsp Vanilla
1 Egg
All the remaining Mint Chocolate Chips I had- maybe 0.5 c.???
3 Fun-size (6 Sticks total) Kit-Kats, crushed up, because they had to go!

Mix Flour, Baking Soda, and Salt in a bowl and set aside. Beat Butter and Sugar until it's whipped and creamy. Add the Egg and Vanilla. Incorporate the Flour mixture. Add the Chocolate Chips and Kit-Kat  pieces. Bake at 375 for 9 minutes and then for how ever long it takes to finish the page of the Hunger Games that you're currently reading. The Hunger Games is a kick-ass book that I recommend all people read. You laugh, you cry, you realize that it's silly that you're reading a teenage romance, then you remove cookies and eat and laugh about how much your life resembles those of the residents of the Capitol.