And the Kitchen Sink: No-Cook Tuna Salad on Toast

Lately I’ve been eating terribly. Not that I’ve been eating junk food per se (though I did get a box of dairy-free, mini ice cream sandwiches that I’ve been eating a bit quickly), more that I haven’t been eating enough or at the “right” times.

Since getting out of school I’ve been eating haphazardly, when and if I feel like it. Some days I’ll sleep in later than I’ve slept in in my life, leading to tacos and yogurt being consumed at noon. Some days I get so wrapped up in Fringe that I don’t eat anything resembling dinner until nearly eleven and even then it’s just a PB&J (side note: PB&J kind of a miracle food, if you’re in a hurry and need to make a quick decision, make it a PB&J).

Part of the response to this is making meals as simply as possible. And in this heat, there’s super points for not turning on any heating implements at all (this is a bit hard without a microwave or toaster oven).

The solution (of course) is no-cook meals.  Everything on toast.  Cold soup.  Simple sandwiches.  And every once and a while a take away meal.  (though I’m trying not to do that too often).  Today is Tuna Salad on toast.

tuna salad

Ingredients:
canned tuna
2 T. mayonnaise
1 T. mustard
1 chopped celery stalk
1 chopped carrot (not pictured)
3 T. grated cheese
salt and pepper to taste
slice of bread

This is pretty much the simplest thing ever. Just mix all the ingredients together with a fork, toast the bread, and put the whole caboodle on toast. Sometimes I skip the cheese in the salad and then grill it into a tuna melt sandwich, but it is just too hot for that lately. Toast sandwich is it.

I’ve been making a variant of this since I was about twelve, and the ingredients pretty much depend on what in the fridge. Leftover onion? Yup. Try it with Goat cheese? Provolone? Be my guest. You can also do the same thing with chicken which is equally as delicious.

Serve with Iced Tea and the knowledge that there’s probably enough nutrients in this to hold you over for about half a day.  Possibly an apple.

What’s your favorite no-cook meal?

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And the Kitchen Sink: The Basics

I don’t think it will come as a surprise to anyone that I love to cook. I’ve been in the kitchen for as long as I can remember doing everything from making cookies to helping with big meals. I have a well documented love of all things put together by Chef Gordon Ramsey, and a less documented love of the entire PBS Saturday cooking show line-up. As a teenager I went to cooking camp for three summers in a row and I had such a blast. We would get there at 9am and cook all morning, then have a late lunch of everything we made that day. Heaven.

Since I have a background in it, I’m always amazed when people don’t know how to cook, and I just want to tell them how awesome it is to cook your own food. Not only is cooking fun, but it is also be educational. By cooking ethnic foods you can learn about different cultures, in baking you learn about exact measurements and the science of leavening agents, if you cook with friends or family you learn how to work with others to make something delicious.

To start you off, today I’m going to share a list of basic tools that you can then use to create millions of dishes. I am barely even scratching the surface of kitchen tools, but if you don’t have these guys you’ll be done before you can start.

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  1. Spoons. Can be wood, plastic, or metal. Wood is the best, but plastic is much cheaper. Metal can ruin your pots and pans, so be careful.
  2. Spatula. Plastic or metal. Different materials are for different purposes, if you do more cooking get plastic (see above note on metal). If you do more baking (more on that in a future post) get metal.
  3. Chef Knife. I have so much to say about knives, but I’m trying to save it for a future post. For now I’ll say that a chef knife is really the only knife you need in the kitchen.
  4. Knife guard. These come in plastic or magnetic material and can save you from slicing your finger when sifting through drawers looking for things.
  5. Bottle opener. Obviously.
  6. Paring Knife. I know I said you ONLY need the chefs knife. You don’t NEED a paring knife, but cutting fruit and other small, soft things is much easier with one. Be sure you have a knife guard for this one too.
  7. Scissors. Sometimes it’s just easier to cut things with scissors. Don’t use regular scissors in the kitchen, get kitchen scissors and use them only in the kitchen.
  8. Grater. I like the three way kind I have with bigger grates for softer cheese, smaller grates for harder cheese and a slicer, but if you want to get just one kind I’d lean one with bigger grates.
  9. Can opener. This one opens cans two ways and bottles as well.
  10. Tongs. These will be your best friend. I like the kind with plastic or rubber grips because, as previously mentioned, metal can seriously mess up your pans. Am I mentioning that too much? Maybe, but it’s true.

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  1. Pot. A 3 quart pot will get you through most things, a cover can come in handy. If you make homemade soup it may be worth it to invest in a stock pot.
  2. Frying pan. Get a non-stick frying pan, and don’t put it through the dishwasher. Even if it is dishwasher safe, hand washing will make it last longer. Again a cover can come in handy, but I don’t use one as much for the frying pan.

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  1. Mixing bowls. Metal, glass, or plastic, take your pick. Metal and plastic are more durable, plastic and glass can be microwaved, and plastic will be cheapest (again). It is possible to cook with only one size mixing bowl, but it would behoove you to own multiple sizes.
  2. Colander/Strainer. For straining pasta or veggies, colanders are magic. Strainers are a bit more difficult to use, but once you get the hang of it they are especially adept if whatever you are strainer will need to stay in the pot. Bonus: steam facial.

Not pictured: pot holders/oven mitts (to save your hands from burning), cutting board (to save your counter tops), and an apron (to save your clothes). And a million other little gadgets that are helpful, but maybe not quite necessary.

A word on quality. As with most things in life you will get the most out of quality tools. They will last the longest and serve you the best. That being said, half of the things in the top picture are from thrift stores or the grocery store and they’ve served me just fine. You have my permission to buy neon colored knives from some random aisle of Target (not that you needed my permission, but now you have it anyway).

I’m really excited to be writing this series and sharing my love of cooking with you all. In future posts I’ll be talking about baking tools, knife skills, and appliances, and many more things. What would you like to hear about? What are your favorite things to cook?

A Thankful Weekend

 

 

I wanted to share a few pictures from this weekend as I not only found my camera charger at home (after ordering it on the internet three weeks ago and it still not being here), but I also got a new phone while I was at it.  My old one had been teetering on the edge of the abyss for a while lately and it was time to change.

This weekend was wonderful.  As previously mentioned, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday since the only major event is eating.  I managed not to overeat, but hit up some of my favorite San Francisco things along the way.  Burritos, the Ferry Plaza Market, and my dad’s cooking (it’s a San Francisco staple, what do you mean you’ve never heard of it?).

Other highlights included a (very) mini What Moves You reunion on the beach, a new hat, and finishing the scarf I was working on for my sister (she elected to receive it now instead of as a Christmas gift leaving me not quite sure what to do for her Christmas gift).  I also sang until my sister hit me and did eurythmy in One Embargadero.  Because when the 4th movement of Beethoven’s 5th comes on I can’t seem to help myself.

 

As I take stock of all my blessings I am becoming more and more aware of how far I have to go.  Not only for the rest of the school year, and the rest of my academic career, but beyond that as well.  I’m in it for the long haul and if I’m going to make it in the big bad city then I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me.  I’m excited to see the road ahead and looking forward to future holidays spent in San Francisco and around the world.

Side note: These pictures were taken with my new phone on my walk home from the bus stop.  I live on a massive hill and pretty much any way you slice it I get to walk uphill to home.  No complaining here, it’s gorgeous.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The week of Thanksgiving always feels a bit surreal to me.  I generally don’t get much done work-wise.  I wander around wondering what to do with my life and teeter on the edge of boredom for a while there until I decide on some sort of an adventure.

This week has been particularly unfocused because I am at a stop sign between my show being finished (I warped production last week) and figuring out what to do with the rest of my life (a question that apparently wants to be answered right now).

Meanwhile I’m thankful for so many things, and perhaps especially the chance to be home for this favorite holiday seeing old friends, spending time with family, and eating lots and lots of food.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and have a great weekend!

Could It Be Love?

Dear TJ’s,

I’ve always been skeptical of you.  You seemed the flight of a school girl’s snack time fancy, not a place for true (albeit ameutur) cooks.  But time and time again you were brought up in conversations.  Friends told me to take you out for a spin.  They told me that if I didn’t like you then I never had to see you again.  Oh TJ’s what a stubborn girl I was!

“When the ‘Wish Big Win Big’ game is up,” I told myself, “I’ll give TJ’s a try.”  The jig is up and today was your day to shine.  I was distracted the whole way to you, TJ’s.  I had just blown a fuse and didn’t quite know it yet and was feeling quite childish for asking about it.  It was a common walk, but a somewhat nervous one too.

Arriving at your doorstep, I was unsure how to proceed.  Why was I being immediately thrown into the fruits and veggies?  I longed for the familiarity I’d had with my Jewel before.  I wandered, a bit disoriented through the produce aisle.  Grapefruit, yes.  And something to replace mushrooms in a meat pie.  Cauliflower, okay.  And English Muffins.  Or British Muffins, if you say so.  Why must we rush into these things though?  I turn the corner to finally meet my dairy section with a sigh of relief.  Cheese and milk, but where is my Oberweis?  This made me a sad chicken, but I pressed on through the frustration.

Now, meats always give me pause, so I can’t entirely blame you TJ’s, but I was again dismayed at the choices. Where was the plain chuck steak I needed?  Or a smaller package for those of us not feeding an entire village? For that matter, where was the deli counter?  Choosing a too-large package of beef cubes, I turned away towards the baking section, another moment of confusion.  Where was my powered sugar?  “Not today,” One of your crew told me.

After all this frustration and madness (if $3 vanilla beans aren’t madness I don’t know what is), I made my way to the checkout.  Another crew member cheerfully helped me check out my groceries.  He even packed the bag for me while I swiped my card for a total of $36.20.  I’m sorry, what was that amount?  And then with my cashback added?

The whole walk home I kept staring at my cart.  $36.20!?!?!?!?!?!?  How is this possible.  I must not have bought as much food.  There’s no way this is the price tag for the same amount of groceries I normally buy for a week.  I usually pay twice that.  It’s because I didn’t buy that much meat this week, isn’t it?  That must be it.  Because I can’t think of another explanation.  I nearly missed my walk signal because I was wracking my brain for another report.

Now, having come home safe, and checked the recipt again, I can think of none.  I can only determine that I must try again.  Double check to make sure.  Parts of me still don’t believe it, but something in my soul is wanting to ask…

Trader Joe’s will you be my Valentine?

Skeptically Yours,
Rachel

Technology is Jealous

This is a few days late, but I’m going to post it anyway.  My computer seems to have overheard a conversation my roommate and I were having about future computer purchases.  I was picture these future purchases to be quite a ways in the future, but it appears I may have been mistaken.  I guess we’ll have to see how things work out.  But without further ado…

This time lapse video is awesome.

On owning the things you like.

Amy has some Words of Wisdom for the days when you’re not feeling so fine.

Some thoughts on Boy Scouts.

So, this article made me think harder about all the times guys tell me to smile.  I think next time I’ll hit them with my purse.  Also, I need to get on that self defense class.

This week I like: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (especially David Boreanaz), sleep, walking to work down Michigan Avenue, Once Upon a Time, leftovers, and friends who buy me food.

Picture Unrelated

There was this one time, my sister and I were watching Buffy and we wanted to go upstairs to get a snack.  We paused the DVD and this was the result.  Needless to say that there are multiple pictures.  Sometimes, she or I will make this face (or attempt to anyway) at each other when the other isn’t expecting it.  We’ll both crack up laughing.  We are awesome.
I spent last night eating far too much food at a gathering of friends.  I am so glad to be spending time with friends already this year and I just hope so much that I’ll be able to keep it up this semester.  For now it is wonderful to spend time with people under no pressure of a projects needing doing, or homework to attend to.  I keep feeling like I should have something philosophical to say about school staring again, but I have no tidbits.  Of wisdom or otherwise.  School is school.  It’s where I want to be right now and I don’t care if that makes me a nerd.  In fact, all the better.
Today is the first day of classes for me.  I packed myself a lunch and got my backpack ready last night.  I also start work in a more official capacity this week which is exciting.  Not sure how much I’ll be in this space in the coming days, but hopefully I’ll be able to stop by and say hello.  In the meantime, I hope there are some people enjoying the snow as much as I am.

How Have I Never Known?

Lots going on this week.  in my world and in internet world.  Some of my favorites…

My roommate gets back from winter break this weekend and I can’t wait to show her this time lapse video of travels.  She’ll also love this video about a solo trek across Iceland that seems to have been making bloggy round this week.

Some tips on blogging from Cam of Campfire Chic.

Four things to love about winter.

Five ways to fuel your dreams, and forty-eight things to be grateful about, both from The Freedom Experiment.

I may be a bit of a nerd, but I think this map that tells you what food is in season in your state is pretty awesome.

You guys.  Chai cookies.  How have I never known these existed until now?

Of Wool, Flannel, and Downton

This week I moved back to Chicago for school.  My roommate and I don’t like to turn the heat on in our apartment to save money.  When the roommate is home this leads to long chats in the living room where we wind up eating ice cream because we’ve forgotten that it’s cold.  When I’m home alone?  Not so much.  My mom’s advice would be to “Put a sweater on”, but sometimes that doesn’t do much.  Once the seasons change and the temperature heats up, that will be all that’s necessary.  In the meantime, here are some of the things I’ve been doing to keep from shivering.
1. Make Tea.  This is one of the more obvious ones, but certainly not wrong.  For me this is two-fold.  I get warm tea that is delicious and awesome AND when I’m really cold I’ll stand over the kettle as I wait for the water to boil, soaking in the heat from the stove.  After which I’ll go right back to the internet surfing, blanket wearing mode that I was in before tea was made.
2.  Cook or Bake.  Again, not the more original, but effective.  Along with the warm things eating, and the using of the stove, this one also gets you moving.  Movement means blood flow, means warmth.  That, and being holed up somewhere endlessly is much more enjoyable with a batch of brownies or a bowl of soup.  Or both.  And tea.
3.  Fold Warm Laundry.  Tell me I’m not the only one who will run the dryer again for five minutes to heat up the clothes/sheets/whatever that’s in there so you can get the awesomeness of folding warm laundry.
4.  Curl Up and Watch TV.  I’ve found that what I really need when I’m cold is to be able to focus on something else.  Grab a blanket and the remote and cozy up for that NCIS marathon.  Or Friends if that’s more your speed.  Whatever you watch, the more engaging the better, and you’ll simply forget the cold.
5.  Get Some Exercise.  Pretty much the opposite of the last one, but once again with the movement, blood flow, and warmth thing.  Weather you play DDR on you Xbox or go run the treadmill in the shifty-looking exercise room in your apartment building, working up a sweat will make the cold less so.
6.  Wool.
7.  Leave the House.  Chances are that if it’s cold in your apartment, it’s colder outside.  That means that if you go outside and come back in, then the inside will feel warm by comparison.  Right?  This may work best if you walk to your destination as it offers you the most time spent outside in the cold.
8.  Invite a Friend Over.  Having someone else around doubles the body heat in the space, and also gives you something else to other than think about how cold it is.
9.  Go to Bed.  When all else fails, I’ve definitely gone to bed very early and/or stayed in bed very late.  What can I say?  Sometimes layers of flannel sound a lot better than a fifth cup of tea within an hour.  And not that I’m especially proud of this, but there was one time last week that I by the time I got out of bed the street lights were on.
This week a friend of mine is coming over for dinner.  We’re going to be making lasagna and watching Downton Abbey (anyone else excited for the US premiere?  Bueller?).

Better Late Than Never* (Links Post)

This weekend has been spent hanging out with my friends from high school, going to the farmers market with the fam, and taking lots of pictures.  There’s something wonky with my my sister’s camera that I am in need of fixing, so hopefully I will have some of the pictures up later this week.

In case of any last minute office holiday parties, let this chart be your guide.
I just found out that I will be going on a trip to Germany this summer.  Cheers!  If you’re planning any big trips for the near or somewhat distant future, this guide may come in handy.  I know I’ll be using it.
25 clever tricks including wrapping paper storage, cord labeling, and ice cream cone cakes.  Awesome.
Because biking is cool.  Especially if you’re a girl in India.
This week I love: the 6-year-old camera I’m borrowing from my sister (she says I can take it back to Chicago with me), Nancy Drew Games, warm socks, being done with finals, being home in San Francisco, my church, and having all my Christmas shopping done already.
What will you guys be up to this week?
*I am going to try to have a regular link post, I was hoping to get it out Sunday, but it wound up being Monday instead.  Next time.