Monday, December 1, 2008

World AIDS Day Post

Originally posted December 1st, World AIDS Day.

So, I'm a lousy updater.. no surprise. But, today I'm feeling motivated, so I thought I'd make amends. And let you know how important I think World AIDS Day is (even though I try not to let my politics take over the food, AIDS affects everyone).

Let's start with how, once upon a time, I traded food for transportation. Here's the story: I needed a bike for some serious, Los Angeles movement, but I had zero money. So, I posted to Craigslist's barter page "My Baked Goods for Your 20" Bike Frame." And, lo, the responses! The best response was from a lovely man in Eagle Rock who promised a sweet 1980's Japanese bike (along with compliments to this blog!) in return for some grub.
Some negotiation later, I had a slightly-too-large bike without gears in exchange for dinner for the gentleman and his wife. He received: one big bag o' hand-ripped garden salad, one big bag o' sundried tomato-cream sauce penne, one big bag o' cantaloupe/grape/Mandarin orange salad, and one little tray of cheapy peach cobbler.

The bike is a masterpiece and I gained some useful leftover sundried tomatoes to feed to TheBoy when I'm feeling generous. Excellent trade and I look forward to taking advantage of someone else's hunger soon.

What other crazy things have I done with food, you ask. Well, I completely failed to make guacamole. My first time making smushy avocado goodness turned into a complete disaster when I tried to use one ripe and one not-so-ripe fruit. I tried everything from a fork to a shot glass to smash that ornery plant, but nothing worked... so I gave up. That attempt was a waste.
My next attempt, though, pleased TheBoy, a major guacamole fanatic, and one guac-hater. Her opinions have changed! Now, she is a guac-hater with the sole exception of my guacamole-of-intense-pleasure-and-love. Though I posted a recipe for guacamole only a few months ago, I'm going to go ahead and post the actual recipe that I sort of follow to make the guac that disappears at parties. One great idea stemmed from that avocado adventure: serve your guac in the peel to the avocado. Yum and fun!

The resulting sort-of-smushed avocado also made a good omelette filling. Omelettes are great way to use up less-than-perfect leftovers. In fact, we've used not only lousy avocado, but also leftover beef stew (complete with potatoes!), ginger-garlic-mushroom stir fry, and even salad.

Another absurd food adventure? How about the time I made gingerbread cookies from scratch, but couldn't find a rolling pin anywhere... so I made do with a wine bottle? See a future post for details, pictures, and adventure story.

Creamy-Spicy Sundried Tomato Pasta Recipe
Recipe adapted/shamelessly stolen from
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped (don't skimp!)
  • 1 cup chopped drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 7.25-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained, chopped
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (I cut them with a kitchen scissor instead of a knife)
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (you know I used the pre-grated refrigerator stuff)
1. Cook pasta according to package directions. When you drain it, make sure to keep 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid. You'll use it later.
2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute 1-2 minutes, but don't let it burn (totally gross).
2. Add tomatoes, cream, red peppers and crushed red pepper; simmer over medium heat 2 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup basil and simmer 1 minute longer.
3. Combine the pasta, the delicious cream sauce, the remaining basil, Parmesan cheese, and enough cooking liquid to moisten in a large bowl.
4. Season with salt and pepper to taste; serve and seriously enjoy (or stick it in an bag and trade it for something awesome).

Cheapy Peach Cobbler Recipe
Recipe adapted/shamelessly stolen from
  • 1 large can sliced peaches, or 6 sliced peaches
  • 1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon (I used at least 1 tsp., but I'm a cinnamon fanatic)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbsp. butter (margarine is a fine substitute)
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used vanilla flavored soymilk)

1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
2. In a large saucepan, combine peache, 1/3 cup sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and cinnamon. Toss to coat peaches evenly. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to boiling, cooking until the mixture thickens, about 1 minute.
3. Transfer mixture to 8" square baking dish.
4. Make the topping: mix all the rest of the dry ingredients together! Smash in the butter with a fork until the topping is crumbly. Stir in milk just until the topping is moistened.
5. Drop the topping by tablespoonfuls onto the peach mixture and pop that baby in the oven until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbly, about 20-25 minutes.

Disappearing Guacamole Recipe
serves 4-6 moderate afficianados or 1-2 really hungry gaucsters (as an appetizer)
  • 2 avocados, smushed by hand (not in a food processor.. break out those muscles!)
  • 1/3-1/2 lime
  • 2-3 Roma tomatoes, chopped (use any kind of tomato you like... but I use Roma)
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2-1 cup grated cheddar cheese (I have no idea how much I actually use... I grate until I'm tired)
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. Peel the avocados and smash with a fork. Dont' worry about getting the consistency too smooth -- bumps make it extra delightful.
2. Squeeze the lime juice onto the smushed avocados. This step keeps the green guts from turning brown through oxidization. Mix well to coat the avocados.
3. Add all the other ingredients! Stir 'em up and taste frequently (TheBoy bravely suffers through this stage every time). I like to stir using a rubber scraper so I can scrape off every last bit of goodness. Add the salt and pepper last and in small increments -- a little goes a long way.

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