Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve







This is what I'm wearing tonight for New Year's Eve.  Olie and I are in Nashville for a fun, relaxed night with my brother and his wife and some college friends.  I went for a casual/sassy look.  So pumped!  
Sweater: Gap (Men's), Pants: Forever 21, Shoes: Urban Outfitters, Assorted Jewels

Saturday, December 29, 2012

100th Post!


Today is my 100th blog post.  I'm so exited that it falls right at the end of the year, because it's a perfect time to reflect on the past 99 posts and to look forward to what is to come in 2013.  I started the blog on a whim and I wanted to prove to myself that I could post on a consistent basis before I rewarded myself with some necessary blog items.  One of which is a new camera, which I am happy to say, is already in use on this blog (I hope you can tell a difference, I certainly can).  As you know, cooking is a huge part of this blog.  My husband gave me two very thoughtful gifts this Christmas that are going to greatly influence The Starving Artist, and represent for me how I feel about food and about cooking in general.  So today, in place of a food post (which honestly I don't have because I've been sick), I thought I would wax poetically about these two cookbooks and what they mean to me and to the future of this blog.

Food is the ultimate gift.  What do you take someone who has lost a loved one?  A casserole.  What do I do when my husband has had a bad day? I make a delicious meal.  At this time of year, I think we can all appreciate how special the food that we make and that people make for us really is.  We all look forward to something: for me, it's my mom's dressing and my grandmother's quiches.  And I was so happy that this year, I could contribute.  I made a chocolate cake for Christmas, and the best feeling in the world is not having any leftovers.  How satisfying is that?  Perhaps next year, someone will look forward to my chocolate cake.  Food brings us together, but it also connects us to people we have lost and the generations that have come before us.  I love hearing my dad talk about his grandmother's homemade anything/everything.  These conversations about her biscuits, candy and fatback (yes, I said fatback) can go on for hours if left unchecked.  Also, in a time of excess, where anything we could possibly want to eat is either in the frozen food section or in a box (just add water!), cooking hearkens back to a time when people made more out of less.  I like to think about who the first person was to ever make bread.  Did he/she have any idea what they had done?!  That this weird process would change the world?  People have eaten by the work of their hands and the sweat off their backs, and manipulated humble ingredients into miracles since the dawn of time.  When we cook, we are connected to them.  We follow in their footsteps.  But we also understand how much we have.  Cooking makes us grateful.

Now, let me be clear, I am not a good cook.  This blog isn't about that.  It's not about showing off how awesome I am in the kitchen, because I'm not.  I flub up all the time.  But I do want to be a good cook.  Like.......really badly.  I want to know how to make everything.  I have weird fantasies about working on a dairy farm and learning how to make cheese (know any that are hiring?).  Olie got a beer brewing kit for Christmas and I think I'm more excited about it than he is.  I can't wait to finally open that first beer after waiting and waiting and see how it tastes.  I really enjoy the process of making food.  Hence, gift number one:


Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast by Ken Forkish

I'm so excited/intimidated by this book.  It's not really a cookbook, it's more like a text book.  In this book, Ken Forkish explains the process of making artisanal breads at home.  Now, if you've been following this blog, you will know that I have already made some attempts at this (see here).  But Ken Forkish's book takes this to a whole other level.  I have declared that 2013 will be bread year: by this time next year, I will be making my own high quality, delicious breads at home.


Gift number two: Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

Another thing you should know about me: I don't cook with recipes.  Baked goods? Yes, of course, but my day-in-day-out meals I just sort of make-up.  This has served me well, up to now.  Now I find myself in a bit of a rut.  Olie and I eat a mostly vegetarian diet (we're not vegetarians, we just like vegetables) and I tend to cook the same vegetables over and over again.  Here comes Plenty.  Plenty has the most insanely delicious looking dishes in it, all of which are vegetarian, a lot of which use vegetables I have never cooked before or even heard of before.  The purpose of this book, is to push me out of my comfort zone and get me cooking things that are completely foreign to me.  Mushroom Ragout with Poached Duck Egg? Oh yeah.  It's on.

So here is why I am telling you all of this.  I have always believed that I can cook and make anything.  I see a recipe and initially get intimidated, but then I remember that people have been cooking since the dawn of time.  It's not really that hard.  In the era of frozen dinners, fast food restaurants, and convenience everything, it's hard to find the reason or will to cook.  I know that I can buy delicious breads at the Kroger bakery, but dammit I want to do it myself!  I hope that this blog will inspire you to get your hands dirty.  To make a mess and clean it up and try again.  Cooking connects us to the ones we love and to our family that has gone before us.  Let's move into 2013 and make some food.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Pardon My French







Trench Coat: Gap; Vest: Stein Mart; Dress: Primark; Tights: George (Wal-Mart); Shoes: Urban Outfitters; Assorted Jewels

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Let It Snow





 Best Christmas gift ever? Snow!  It snowed Christmas night and I woke up the next day to about 3 or 4 inches.  If you lived in Memphis/the South, you would understand how unbelievable this is.  I've never seen snow on Christmas.

I hope everyone's Christmas was amazing.  I hope you all ate too much and got too jolly.  I know I did. But now I have strep throat so my blogging may be a little hit or miss over the next few days.  But, here is what I wore yesterday in the snow.

Hat: (I have no idea, I found it at my parent's house); Sweater: TopMan (I bought it for Olie a few years ago, not knowing he was allergic to wool); Jeans: Wal-Mart; Shoes: Urban Outfitters


Monday, December 24, 2012

Stomping Grounds










I took these pictures while on a walk the other day.  Olie and I take about an hour long walk pretty much every day.  Our neighborhood is so awesome, it's hard not too.  On this walk, we stopped and grabbed a beer at Slider Inn along the way.  Gonna have to do a post on this place soon, it's a great hang out.  And their everything slider (as in every topping they have to offer on a slider) is banging.

Sweater: Thrifted; Button-down: Old Navy; Jeans: Citizens of Humanity; Boots: Target

Friday, December 21, 2012

More Goat Cheese

I told you guys about the log of goat cheese I bought, right?  Well I've pretty much been putting it in every dish I've made these last few days.  This one was pretty exceptional, so I'm sharing it with you.  This is another one of those meals that is made out of leftovers (which are the best meals).  I really loved this because I ate it hot when I made it, but then a few hours later (ok, like 30 minutes later) I ate it cold and it was also delicious.  I haven't really made up my mind which way is better.  That makes it a little difficult to title.  If I was telling you to serve it cold, I would call it a Macaroni Salad.  If hot, I would say a macaroni and cheese.  Hmmmm......... Conundrum.  I think I'll go with:

Southern Vegetable Pasta with Goat Cheese (pretty generic right? I'll let y'all decide if you like it better hot or cold)

This one is really simple.  All you do is cook some lima beans and some corn.  I used frozen.  Now, lima beans take longer than corn, just fyi.  I always just throw the frozen corn in at the last minute, it cooks in about a minute.  Cook macaroni noodles.  While noodles are cooking, saute a little red onion.  When noodles are done, toss with the vegetables.  Add a generous amount of goat cheese and an equal portion of Greek yogurt.  Stir to coat.  The hot noodles and vegetables will melt the cheese and yogurt and turn it into the most delicious sauce.  Now I just add a little salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, top with scallions and you're good to go!

Seriously, try this one hot and cold.  If you come to a decision, let me know.



Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Little Bit Hippie, A Little Bit Preppy




Red Sweater: Forever 21; Dress: American Eagle; Boots: DSW; Socks: Stolen from My Sister-in-law; Jewels: Forever 21; Gold Bangle: Gifted a Billion Years Ago

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Breakfast Nachos with Goat Cheese

Dude.  This is so good.  Dude.

If you haven't noticed, I love Mexican food.  Almost as much as I love breakfast food.  Breakfast is the best meal of the day.  I think I could eat scrambled eggs at every meal of the day.  But then my cholesterol would be through the roof and my arteries would be screaming in protest.  So, I try to restrain myself.

I treated myself to a log of goat cheese the other day (another favorite of mine) and I've been finding tons of fun and delicious ways to eat it.  Besides plain and in large quantities..  This is one of my concoctions.  I really loved this dish.  It's simple and delicious.  Breakfast dishes shouldn't take too long to make or be too complicated.  It's just too early.

Here's how to recreate it: spread a layer of refried beans on a plate.  Click here for my un-fried refried beans recipe.  Then I add a layer of tortilla chips.  I like to cut corn tortillas into eighths, spray with canola oil spray, sprinkle with chili powder, and bake in a 500 degree oven for about 10 minutes.  Much tastier than bagged tortilla chips.  Then I topped this with 2 scrambled eggs, diced avocado, pico de gallo, jalepenos, green onions, and goat cheese.  Click here for my pico de gallo recipe.

This is so good.  The goat cheese really makes this a special dish.  And how fun are nachos for breakfast!? 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bundled Up






Hat: Primark, Sweater: Gap, Bustier: Forever 21, Woven Scarf: Vintage, Beaded Scarf: No Idea, Jeans: Wal-Mart, Belt: Vintage Levi's, Shoes: Urban Outfitters, Jewels: Forever 21, Watch: Fossil

Monday, December 17, 2012

Local

Yesterday I finally went to the new midtown Local for brunch.  I'm a sucker for a good brunch.  I'm an even bigger sucker for a good mimosa, and I can honestly say, their Midtown Mimosa is the best I've ever had.  It's got all the normal ingredients (champagne and orange juice) with a few extras: vodka and St Germain.  This mimosa tastes like heaven.  For real.

The menu is diverse but not extensive (which I like.  I don't want too many options.  Just really good ones). However I still had trouble ordering since ever single item sounded amazing.  I ended up getting the Chorizo Bolognese with Gouda Grits.  Seriously yummy.  Olie ordered the Pecan Crust Chicken with Sweet Potato Waffle.  I stole a little bite.  Very good.  I liked both of these entrees because they are just good old Southern classics taken to the next level.

I have to say though, I think the best part of Local is the atmosphere.  There are tons of people there, everyone is drinking and having a good time, and the decor is manly, modern, and comfortable.  There are enough TVs to make it convenient for sports watching, but not so many that you're distracted if you don't care.  The downside of Local is the price.  Most of the items on the menu are over $12, which, on my budget, makes Local more of a special occasion restaurant.  However, the draft beers are reasonably priced, making Local perfect for meeting friends to watch a Grizzlies game and maybe splitting an appetizer.

A great restaurant!  Can't wait to go back!  I already have my next entree picked out; lobster tacos? yes, please!
Ghost River 1887 IPA and a Bloody Mary.  Watch out!  The Bloody Marys are spicy!

My Chorizo Bolognese with Gouda Cheese Grits

Olie's Pecan Crust Chicken and Sweet Potato Waffles

The Midtown Mimosa.  Heaven in a glass.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Mix Master Meredith




Sweater: American Eagle (Men's), Skirt: Urban Outfitters, Shoes: Urban Outfitters

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Baby, It's Cold Outside





It's finally cold in Memphis!  I love cold weather because I love to wear as many clothes as I possibly can.  Most of the year, Memphis is too hot to wear any clothes at all (though thankfully we do), so it's nice to be able to pull out some little-worn winter favorites.  Like this leather jacket.  I'm hoping this cold weather will stick around and we'll have a cold Christmas (I'd really like a White Christmas, but that is past hope and into delusion).

Leather Jacket: Primark, Denim Jacket: Old Navy, Gray Shirt: Forever 21, Harem Pants: American Apparel, Shoes: Urban Outfitters, Scarf: Charming Charlie, Hat: Gifted