College is not known for its culinary delights. Late night pizza, over-greased dining-hall food, and all that beer-flavored water… not exactly the kind of place where a blossoming chef thrives.
Unless, of course, you lived with a Brit, a Brazilian, a Republican, a 16-year-old, a self-described “uh-oh Oreo Cashew” (I’m not even gonna break that down for you), and a rotating cast of semi-feral males from JetSet Kef’s apartment collectively known as “the boys.” Between the lot of us, someone was always cooking something (well…most of us), and every now and again something good came out of our tiny, sticky-floored kitchen while “Holla Back Girl” blared from the stereo to drown out the smoke alarm that went off if we so much as opened a jar of hot sauce.
Back then, I would bring back two things from the grocery store: broccoli and ingredients for dessert. I ate some kind of steamed broccoli stir fry pretty much every day for four years (every day, that is, when I wasn’t busy eating pizza or the aforementioned desserts). On the other side of the kitchen, my friend Christine (here after- Queijo Kef) would be making one of two things: vodka-infused gummy bears (terrible idea- do not try at home!) or some kind of creamy sauce. Let me tell you: you’d be hard pressed to find that girl eating something that wasn’t topped with or accompanied by some kind of sour cream/yogurt/cream cheese/gratin sauce. Girl loves her some damn CREAM.
|Queijo Kef, posing pre-party.
So, on the eve of my 5-year reunion (which I am very much not attending–if you were my friend in college and want to see me, you probably already know how to get in touch with me), I bring you the beautiful lovechild of Chef Kefi and Queijo Kef’s favorite things: steamed broccoli with a creamy, tangy avo-yogurt sauce.
–2 heads of broccoli, chopped
–1 avocado, sliced and shelled
–half of a Fage Greek yogurt
–juice of half a lime
1. Steam broccoli. I do this by throwing about 1/8 c of water into the skillet with broccoli and cooking covered for about 4-5 minutes. You do you.
2. While the broccoli is steaming, Mix together lime juice and avocado, then yogurt. Stir vigorously and mash up the avo as much as possible.
3. Combine broccoli and sauce. Enjoy!
Last time I brought you something that looked as delicious as it tastes– I will not be doing that today. For the last few weeks I have been eating what I call “pantry food,” a culinary genre that might otherwise be called “Chef Kef is too lazy to grocery shop… let’s see what we can create out of whatever is left in the cabinets.” Needless to say, most of these concoctions have not been CuK-caliber. But this dip is one of the more successful results of the fortnight of foraging, as evidenced by the half of the dish that was empty before I even thought to snap a characteristically-bad photo.
|I wish I were even a little embarrassed by this pitiful display of discipline…but I’m not.
- 3/4 c tomato sauce
- 1/2 c canned pumpkin
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 c cheese
- 2 handfuls of spinach
- 1 can black beans, drained
- 3-4 crushed hard taco shells (use blue corn to keep it gluten free)
1. Preheat oven to 375. Mix everything together in a big mixing bowl. Put it in almost anything you’d like to cook it in– glass would work best, but an aluminum casserole dish would work just as well. No need to grease.
2. Cook for 30-40 minutes, until middle is set and top of dip is browned.
3. Yep, that’s really it.
Usually, my food tastes better than it looks (and CERTAINLY better than I photograph it for this blog!). I whipped up a batch of blueberry muffins last night and was pleasantly surprised to find that for once, they looked as good as store-bought ones do. Now– the pictures still don’t do them justice, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes.
In other news, I’m about to graduate from nursing school, BabyKef has TWO Masters’ degrees, and I’m getting new orthotics today which means that my month-long running hiatus is OVER. If all THAT isn’t reason to praise the Lord, I don’t know what is.
Thanks to everyone who helped me study, listened to me whine, and didn’t take it personally when I ignored their calls/emails/texts–these juicy muffins are for you!
- 4 c flour
- 2 c sugar
- 5 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 ripe banana, mashed
- 1 cup lowfat buttermilk
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
- 3 tsp vanilla
- 1.5 tsp cinnamon
- 2 cups (12 oz.) fresh ripe blueberries
1. Preheat the oven to 400. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
2. In a separate bowl, beat eggs and banana together. Add buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and cinnamon.
3. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. When fully combined, add blueberries. Batter will be very thick.
4. Fill muffin tins about 3/4 of the way. Cook for 20-22 minutes, or until you can insert a fork into center and it comes out clean.
“This is a fight about what we think is right and wrong, to be sure–but we must not use the Bible to create more enemies of the faith, but to use our faith as a basis to identify with those who are the least, the lost, and the lonely…. there are no asterisks on what Jesus said.
The great preacher and mystic Howard Thurman says, ‘A bigot is a person who makes an idol of his or her commitments.’ Black Christians must be deeply rooted in their faith, but not deeply entrenched in bigotry. And furthermore– do we want to become sexual rednecks? Do we actually want to extend the same trajectory of transgression and tragic suppression of… gay and lesbian and transgender and bisexual people? Do we want to stand on the wrong side of history because we have a narrow, parochial, provincial conception of faith?”
–Dr. Michael Eric Dyson (watch the full come-to-Jesus moment)
Happy Mother’s Day to MamaKef!
And now, a few words about the incredibly difficult task of mothering, from the incredible Khalil Gibran
Shout out to moms everywhere, who work tirelessly, and often without thanks, compensation, or appreciation, to raise up some babies.
As a rule, I stay from anything described as “two bite”– you know what I mean: those brownies/cupcakes/cookies sold in those round plastic things at the grocery store sized just small enough to keep you wanting more…and more…and more. And you know why I avoid them? Because whoever calls something that good a two-bite anything obviously doesn’t understand simple multiplication: if you eat ten, they are actually twenty-bite brownies. If you buy into this two-bite business, you’re faced with the knowledge that you’re consuming food packaged either by an idiot or by a control freak–and that’s a risk I’m not willing to take.
But oooooo the macaroon. Often lumped in with their two-bite brethren, these coconut cookies are the definition of melt-in-your-mouth goodness. Since going off grains, these puppies have been god-sends to a texture-driven eater like me. The problem is, I’m also twenty-bite kind of girl, and the first ingredients in macaroons are sugar, more sugar and, usually, butter, which runs the risk of turning me into a twenty-chin kind of girl.
So- here we have a cheap, easy, sugar-free version of the grocery store delight. They’re pretty quick and yield about 2 dozen in a single batch–making them nearly fifty-bite macaroons. Somebody get the crane- you’re gonna have to roll me outta here.
- 5 egg whites
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2.5c shredded coconut (3c of the real stuff is $3.99 at Whole Foods–try to avoid imitation if you can)
- 1/3c honey
- 1 TBS flavored extract, like vanilla or almond
1. Preheat oven to 350. Combine egg whites and salt. Beat until stiff peaks form. (NB: This means that you use an electric or standing mixer on those puppies until the whites form a foam so sturdy that when you turn off the mixer and lift it out of the bowl, the peaks stay standing. It will take 5-7 min on high speed.)
2. In another bowl, mix together remaining ingredients. Then fold in egg whites, until full combined.
3. Scoop out cookies using a 1 TBS measuring spoon onto parchment-paper lined cookie sheet (press the dough firmly into the spoon, then tap them out forcefully). They can be close together, as they won’t spread out into each other.
4. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until macaroons are golden brown. Let cool so they firm up–then enjoy!