Monday, January 31, 2011

Namaste

I was always told growing up that the eyes of potatoes are poisonous. Turns out there's some truth to that (no, I didn't eat them myself, I looked it up online), but as long you stay away from green potatoes and cut the little squirrely protrusions off before you cook the spuds, you'll be just fine. I report this because I had a bag of potatoes sitting on my counter for a few weeks, and one of them had started to sprout.

Having firmly learned my lesson about using the larger skillet with unknown recipes, I decided to go one step further with my potato and egg curry and use the spaghetti pot. After assembling the initial ingredients, I confirmed this was a wise move. In addition to the spices called for in the recipe, I added dashes of ground ginger, cinnamon, and ground cloves (which I finally managed to find, after checking three grocery stores, in my mother's cupboard of all places, so I pilfered it). I also left the potato skins on because it adds vital nutrients to the dish, and I like the flavor.

Words cannot properly describe how absolutely delicious this concoction smelled even before it was simmering away on the stove. My dabbles into Indian cuisine have taught me immeasurable lessons on the beauty of spices. If you, like me, had little experience with herbs and spices in your formative years, I strongly suggest grabbing an Indian cookbook and going to town! (This one is a good introduction and doesn't require a lot of rare spices that you'll never use again: 5 Spices, 50 Dishes: Simple Indian Recipes Using Five Common Spices.)

Sadly, I was out of garlic naan and brown rice sounded so boring, so I served the curry over the last of my couscous, a more than adequate pairing! As stated in the comments to the recipe, the dish definitely benefits from added spices. Mine also ended up a bit eggy, so adding one or two less eggs wouldn't hurt either. 

As this is the last day of January, potato and egg curry also marks the last Indian dish that I will be reporting on for some time. (I am by no means retiring Indian cuisine from my repertoire; I will just be embarking on a new cuisine journey starting tomorrow.) India has taught me a lot: what masala means, how you don't need a roux or even a lot of ingredients to make curry, that cinnamon is an awesome spice... I think this was a great choice for starting my 2011 food adventure. I now am armed with a well stocked spice cabinet and valuable lessons on the size of the ideal skillet!

Next month we move to the other side of the world and tackle...

...Scandinavian! Which will be interesting considering their diet is largely based on meat, and I have chosen to be vegetarian. A challenge, indeed.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Curry Masala

It was suggested to me by a friend from work who loves Indian food that I should discuss the differences between what we in the Western World call “curry” and “masala.” In my research for this project, I have come across some very confused visions of these “dishes,” and was asked by my mother what I meant when I said I made curry, because all she could think of was the spice, a key ingredient to many curry dishes, but by no means the defining factor. There is also, I feel I should point out, the popular Japanese curry, which is a little different than Indian curry – it's always seemed saucier to me, is often made with beef, and is generally milder than its Indian counterpart. (My favorite Japanese curry involves honey and apples.)

I shall start out by saying that I have noticed both “curry” and “masala” translated as “stew,” hence the title of my previous blog entry. As a verb, stew means “to undergo cooking by simmering or slow boiling,” and as a noun “a preparation of meat, fish, or other food cooked by stewing, esp. a mixture of meat and vegetables.” (Definitions found here.) Both masala and curry dishes do fit these descriptions. They are a simmered combination of vegetables and occasionally meats (chicken curry and chicken tikka masala, as examples), but probably not what comes to most Westerners' minds when they think of stew, which has generally been described to me as a thick soup with less broth and chunks of vegetables. I have eaten stew with bread, but I don't recall ever putting it over rice. Also, many Westerners are a bit mistaken on their image of masala, but we'll get to that later.

Though there is a curry tree, and its leaves are ground up and used to flavor curry dishes, particularly in South India, curry powder is something a little different. Outside of India, curry powder has become standardized, making many curry dishes taste very similar to each other, but within India, varying blends are in wide use because no specific ingredients are required to make curry, just as no particular ingredients are requirements for stew. (Very similar to the story of chai, or chai latte as it is perhaps more properly termed since “chai” simply means “tea” in many South Asian languages, while we Westerners mean something more specific when using the term. The phrase “chai tea” is frustratingly redundant to me.)

The truth is no one really knows why we in English call this Indian stew-like dish curry. To quote from Wikipedia's entry on curry: “In Urdu, an official language of Pakistan, curry is usually referred to as saalan (سالن). The equivalent word for a spiced dish in Hindi-Urdu is masaledar (i.e. with masala).” Wikipedia also points out that one native word for what we think of as curry “tari” is derived from the Persian word “tar” which means “wet.” So curry could be thought of as any dish that can be considered wet. (And I have yet to have a curry that wasn't saucy.)

Now let's look at the term “masala,” which literally means “mixture,” implying a mixture of spices in this case. Masala is a term that pops up in many different dishes: chana masala (chana is Hindi for chickpea), chicken tikka masala (tikka essentially means chunked), and – oh, look at this! – masala chai (“spiced tea”). Incidentally, it is masala chai that most Westerners think of as “chai tea.”

So if curry is wet, and masala is a blend of spices, then they really aren't two different kinds of dishes at all! Chicken tikka masala (spiced chunks of chicken) is a kind of curry, though, I feel I should point out, masala chai is not.

In short: masala is the blend of spices one puts into, among other things, curry, a wet mixture of stewed vegetables and sometimes meat, to add flavor. Now that isn't so hard to keep straight, is it?

Monday, January 24, 2011

One Mean Chickpea Stew

 
Chana masala is another chickpea dish particularly popular in northern India, Pakistan, and your local Trader Joe's freezer. (Trader Joe's really is an easy and inexpensive way to introduce yourself to foreign dishes. If you don't like it, just let them know and they will give you a full refund. To a lesser extent, World Market is another great source for the exotic.)

Chickpeas – remember, aka garbanzo beans – are a fabulous source of protein for vegetarians, or anyone for that matter. I've recently discovered a certain lack of protein in my diet, thus I return to the delicious chickpea. I also had some leftover diced tomatoes and half an onion that needed to be used, and there was still a piece of garlic naan in my freezer. (Mmm... Garlic naan...)

Chana masala is a ridiculously easy dish to make, and I encourage everyone to give it a try. All you need is a can of chickpeas, some tomatoes (I used canned diced tomatoes because they store longer), diced onion, cumin, chili powder, and lemon juice. I don't ever use chili powder, so I left that one out (obviously use it for a more authentic flavor and if you like spice), and I forgot to add the lemon juice, but my chana masala was still delicious. I also found only cumin to be a bit boring, so I added dashes of garlic powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, tumeric, and the tiniest bit of curry powder. Wikipedia says that garlic and ginger are often added to the dish, and as I have said previously, cinnamon and nutmeg are my two new favorites. Tumeric and curry I threw in because I have so much of it that I doubt I can go through it all in my lifetime.

Just sautee the onion, toss in the tomatoes and spices, then let simmer for a bit before adding the chickpeas. Let everything simmer together (add water as needed so things don't burn) for about ten minutes or until you can't stand it anymore, whichever comes first. A dash of lemon juice is supposed to be added at the last minute before serving, but as I said, I forgot that part when making it myself.

The garlic naan was a beautiful addition to my lunch, which means I probably need to buy more since I still have half a skillet of chana masala leftover. Once again, the Pyrex from my brother comes in handy! (Whoot!)

I'm getting much better about remembering to use my large skillet when sauteeing, but I really need a lid to fit it. So far I have been making do with the spaghetti pot lid, which occasionally ends up floating on top of the contained concoction and tends to make a mess on the stove. Why don't lids for skillets come with pot and pan sets? This makes no sense to me. I probably cover my skillets twice as often as I cover my pots. What gives? Of course, maybe if I bought a set that wasn't on clearance at Meijer, it might include the appropriate lids. My friends with nicer cookware will have to let me know.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

And Now For Something Completely Different

While going through some boxes in my apartment, I unearthed a children's cookbook from the 1960s. In addition to being amusingly dated (be sure to get an adult to light the oven for you!), this book included an old family comfort food: cinnamon and sugar toast. My mother made it for us kids when we were feeling sick, and my grandmother made it for her when she was little. Since I wasn't feeling well for a few days, I broke in my new toaster oven by making some toast for breakfast! So glad I had the cinnamon on hand from all my cooking adventures.

Speaking of breakfasts, I've been trying to make mine more nutritious. I used to never eat breakfast at all because I am not hungry early in the morning, but over the past few years, I've forced myself to put something in my stomach (even if it's a banana or a mug of chai) before two hours have passed after fumbling out of bed. I've been eating a lot of Joe's Os with milk since my instant oatmeal supply finally ran out. And, of course, for the days that I have more time, there is pumpkin pancake mix in my cupboard. Yum yum!

Also in the cupboard is a large canister of quick cook oats that I bought for a tuna patties recipe last fall. I figured it was time I gave those oats a new purpose (there really are so many of them in that canister), so I forced myself to make oatmeal.

I have never, ever like oatmeal. Once on a trip to Quebec in high school, we had oatmeal as part of a traditional fur traders breakfast, and it completely ruined my appetite. I don't think I ate another bite of the wonderful spread that followed – bacon, eggs, none of it passed my lips thanks to that lumpy, grey mush. I started eating flavored instant oatmeal after college because I heard it was more filling than cereal (which never fills me up) and was able to tolerate the maple and brown sugar after some practice. But quick cook oats? Cardboard has more flavor.

In my reading, I came across two intriguing recipes for dressing up oatmeal. One suggested mixing quinoa with the oatmeal, which I intend to try once I fit quinoa into my food budget. In the meantime, I decided to make oatmeal based on the second recipe, which had a lot of flexibility. So once my quick cook oats were prepared, I added the following:

  • a dash of milk
  • a dash of vanilla extract
  • walnut baking pieces
  • dashes of cinnamon
  • a drizzle of real maple syrup
  • the rest of my raisins (barely a handful)

It was pretty good! (And good for me.) It still lacked some flavor, even with all that, and I wished I had had some brown sugar to sprinkle in.

Another use I've discovered for the baking pieces is in pancakes! It wouldn't be bad in the pumpkin pancakes, but I also have multigrain pancake mix, which may be a better choice. At the demo station at work last week, they made multigrain pancakes with crushed walnuts and dried cherries. It was delicious! I was thinking when I make it myself, though, I will put in fresh or frozen blueberries in addition to the baking pieces. And definitely some dashes on cinnamon! Maybe a little nutmeg, too. The possibilities are endless!

Next week, we should be back to Indian dinners. I still have ingredients for channa masala and potato egg curry that must be used.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Joy of Creation

 As far as I can tell, the meaning of the word “masala” is “gravy” (or similar substance), so I think I am all right in calling this dish paneer tikka masala. This is by no means a recipe, though. It is only what I did after consulting numerous recipes online, not being able to follow any of them, and then using what I had on hand to cobble together dinner. And what a pretty bento it made!
Here is what I did:
  1. Chopped a handful of onion and sauteed over medium heat until softened.
  2. Added half a can (about 7oz) of diced tomatoes. Sprinkled on powdered garlic and powdered ginger. Let cook down a few minutes.
  3. Because I don't have a food processor, I squished the tomato chunks down with a spoon to de-chunk the mixture as best I could.
  4. Turning the heat to low, I added dashes of cumin powder and turmeric powder, then some ground cinnamon because it's delicious, and ground nutmeg for the same reason.
  5. The tomatoes can be a bit strong, so I would not begrudge anyone to sprinkle on a little sugar to cut them a bit.

About this time in the process, I started wondering what Indian food was like before the introduction of tomatoes, a fruit (yes, fruit) native to the Americas. My former roommate Sherelle, a fellow cook, often talked of making a meal of traditional European food before the introduction of tomatoes. I know my Italian family recipes would be considerably more limited without tomatoes!
But I digress.

  1. Cut the paneer into little chunks and added it to the mixture.
  2. Stirred and heated thoroughly. Et voila! 
I served my concoction with brown rice and garlic naan, a combination I highly recommend.

A quick note on rice: I have stated before that I do not like brown rice, and I stand by this general statement, but I am trying it out with my attempt to revolutionize the way I eat and to get healthier. (PS- I've already lost five pounds since starting this blog!) However, I have found a brown rice that I like, Trader Joe's brown basmati. Others may sell brown basmati rice, but I have only had it from Trader Joe's on the recommendation of my friend Ryan (who makes pizza from scratch, including the dough, and it's awesome). Jasmine rice is also pretty amazing. My all-time favorite rice is short-grain white, but it is admittedly not practical for all purposes (though totally a requirement of onigiri and sushi). 
 
Between the quiches and Indian dishes, I have learned a lot about spices this winter. Ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg, for instance, have become fast favorites, and I add them to almost any dish that I can. Though the health effects of nutmeg are up to debate, you can read here 10 health benefits of cinnamon
 
Wow, I feel healthier already! (And look forward to losing another five pounds. *wink*)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Little Miss Muffet

Why anyone would eat whey is beyond me. It looks disgusting! How do I know? Because I wanted to make my own paneer tikka masala, but I didn't know where to buy paneer, so my friend Jennie linked me to a site detailing how to make it myself. Only two ingredients are required: whole milk and lemon juice. Done!

(Incidentally, this simple process makes paneer a vegetarian cheese. Most cheeses are made using rennet, which, traditionally, comes from animal stomachs. Yes, cheese comes from animal stomachs. Nowadays, rennet can be made from vegetables or other sources, but unless specified, assume most cheeses at your local deli are not, in fact, vegetarian.)

I didn't have any whole milk because I don't actually like milk. Rice milk is out of my price range, though, so I buy skim milk for cereal and the occasional recipe. I happened to have used the last of my milk on pancakes earlier that day, so I was in the market for milk, and who am I to pass up such a challenge?

The only requirement that I wasn't sure about was cheesecloth, which I certainly do not have sitting around. Since my library books were due back, I decided to run out to return the books and see if I could pick up some cheesecloth and milk along the way. The weather had other plans. I managed to creep to the library never more than 20 mph and on my way out of the parking lot, I decided against the cheesecloth. Instead, I drove home and walked (it was quicker than driving, trust me) over to Trader Joe's for the milk and some other incidentals. A quick search online told me that I could use any number of things in place of cheesecloth, including paper coffee filters, which I do have lying around! (See my entry on coffee.)

The recipe calls for a liter of milk, which I found a bit daunting. For one thing, I wasn't sure how many cups that was. (Turns out it's about 4 and a quarter.) And I didn't know that I wanted a bunch of paneer sitting in my fridge for who knows how long, though luckily I do know two dishes that call for paneer, my goal paneer tikka masala (chopped cheese curds in masala sauce) and palak paneer (spinach and cheese curds).

Anyway, I decided to cut the recipe in half, which seems to have worked out. After separating the milk into curds and whey by stirring the lemon juice into the heated milk, to divide the curds from the whey, I put a coffee filter in my strainer (previously used for steaming the cauliflower for my chickpea cauliflower curry) and set it atop the largest Pyrex bowl that my brother got me for Christmas. I very carefully poured the separated milk into the coffee filter and let it sit. The instructions told me to squeeze the curds to get more liquid out, which I did and split open three soggy filters in a row. I was also told to set something on top of it to squeeze out liquid, so I ended up leaving the curds in the strainer, put another coffee filter on top of them, and on top of that I set the smallest Pyrex bowl, which worked better than squeezing by hand (no filters broke). Once it seemed that no more liquid would come out of its own free will, I set a bag of potatoes in the top Pyrex bowl to press the curds down even more.

After a few hours of that, I decided to remove the paneer from between the thoroughly soaked coffee filters and chill it in the fridge. The website mentions putting it in a cold water bath, but I didn't have time to use the cheese right away so I wanted to preserve it. I was also hoping that refrigeration would help firm it up. Taking it out the next day, it seems to have done the trick. Next step, marinade! But that will have to wait another day when I have more time. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Naye Varsha Ki Shubhkamanyen (Happy New Year)

I really can't understand why my oven still smokes after all this time. Aren't the last vestiges of butter drippings gone yet?? Evidently not.

So, January. The start of a new year. I've long thought about picking a different ethnic food category every month and exploring recipes, and since January is supposed to be the time to start new things, I thought why not actually do it instead of just thinking about it? (Yes, I know I got a late start, but February's a short month anyway, so two cuisines get gypped instead of just one.) And the country I have picked for this month is: India.

I don't have a lot of experience with Indian food. I went with friends to an Indian buffet once, and my old university had an annual international festival that featured foods from around the world, not to mention my job in a grocery store that sells a decent amount of Indian frozen and shelf stable entrees that I have tried via employee tastings. Even so, I consider these merely cursory experiences. Dabbles, if you will. I think the real way to become acquainted with a cuisine is to cook it yourself.

My quest began at SparkRecipes where I found a few quick and easily prepared vegetarian dishes. I chose chickpea cauliflower curry as my first experiment because the recipe suggests serving it over brown rice, and I have a box of brown minute-rice that I want to get rid of, as well as some leftover cooked carrots and 2/3 of an onion.

Reusable shopping bag in hand (or rather purse) I hiked over to Trader Joe's and picked up curry powder, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), canned diced tomatoes, and cauliflower. I decided to cut out peas because I didn't have any on hand and I didn't see them as particularly vital to the recipe. I also delightedly picked up some frozen garlic naan because, um, it's garlic naan. It is its own explanation. For the ground ginger, I hopped in the car and headed to Whole Foods. Ordinarily, I do not shop at Whole Foods because of their reputation for being expensive. However, though I was blown away by the outrageous prices they charge for produce and fresh cut flowers, I did not find the cereal, for example, to be that much more than Trader Joe's, and they obviously offer things that Trader Joe's does not. (Like a cocoa puffed cereal. I'm totally going back for that when my Joe's O's run out.)

The cauliflower from Trader Joe's comes in a bag designed to steam the vegetable in the microwave, and as we know, I lack a microwave. So I steam my vegetables in a colander resting over a pot of boiling water. It works! I had the minute-rice and cauliflower going at the same time and once they were done, I got my large frying pan (see? I learned from last time) and cooked up the remainder of the ingredients.


If you didn't recall the bit about the microwave, I hope you at least remember that I don't follow recipes. Rather than actual cloves of garlic, I substituted garlic powder. I also used the whole bag of cauliflower, and the entirety of the cans of chickpeas and diced tomatoes. Now, in addition to the dried bits of spinach that I never got around to scraping off even though I said I would, there are splashes of tomato sauce, as well. It's a colorful kitchen.

Minus the mess, my first foray into Indian cuisine turned out a delicious success! Cauliflower contains cancer-fighting sulforaphane while tomatoes help prevent both cancer and heart disease, and chickpeas are high in protein. I am also told there are health benefits to brown rice (I still prefer white). Not the kind of curry I am used to, but in the past, I have only made mild Japanese curry, and a quick search online for the word “curry” informs me that it has no particular meaning beyond “wet,” and this is definitely a wet dish, if not exactly saucy.

Āp kā khānā svādiṣṭa ho! (That's “bon appétit” in Hindi.)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Quiche Continued

I feel that I must somewhat retract my statement about my grandmother's pie crust because I have since learned something: it makes a good quiche crust. For a few days after New Year's I was visiting my mother, and one day we invited my grandfather over for dinner. I had been telling him and my mother about my latest cooking discoveries, and it was decided that I would make a quiche for dinner. Mom chose the ingredients: broccoli, mushrooms, and an assortment of cheeses. She also wanted ham, but it turned out that we didn't have any. While she made her pie crust for the quiche, I mixed up the fillings from vague memories of what I had done before and checking with an ancient cook book of my mother's that was really not as helpful as I think she had hoped. But I'm getting pretty good at this fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants cooking, so I was feeling confident that this no recipe quiche would turn out.

And it did! I forgot to mix in the ground nutmeg, so I ended up sprinkling it on top with some shredded Parmesan cheese, which didn't hurt the dish at all. I think it could have benefited from more salt, but I hate to over-salt things, and it's easy enough for the diners to dash on some salt to taste. Same with pepper, which I rarely cook with, but a number of my family members enjoy pepper on their eggs.

I think that in the future, I could try to make a quiche with crust, though I am not convinced of my need to since it's probably healthier without. My grandmother's/mother's pie crust is still pretty tasteless to me, but it made a nice backdrop to the egg and cheese. I certainly don't want the crust to take center stage! But it gets me thinking. Can I make a crust that is enhancing to the filling while having a little more flavor than Mom's? Such an undertaking would require some studying of various pie crust recipes, which I find kind of exciting, but the fact that I do not like pies nor crusts does not change.

But since my quiches have gone over so well, I think that one day I will attempt to bake a dessert pie. Perhaps this summer when I can buy fresh berries from the farms, I will make a berry pie. I have long wanted to try making a Dutch apple pie, as well, which I think will be a project for next Fall when I can go to the orchards and pick apples myself. But before apple season comes blueberry season, and I am very excited about going to the farms for fresh blueberries and all the wonderful concoctions I can discover for them! My mouth is watering already.

Incidentally, for those interested in their own quiche adventures, there is this book: The Best 50 Quiche Recipes. And for newbies, I definitely suggest you give quiche a try!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Easy as Egg Pie

 
I've learned that unless I am making eggs or pancakes, I need to use my large frying pan, which I did not do when I made spinach quiche. (The recipe came from The 10 Things You Need to Eat, but I modified it by cutting out a couple items that weren't strictly essential and I couldn't justify the expense, and made it crustless because I am neither fond of crust nor did I want to spend the extra time on it.) My little fry pan (there are only the two) was big enough for the onions, though I had some concern, then came the 10 oz frozen spinach mountain that eventually cooked down, but left behind green chunks all over the stove. If my stove ever stays clean for more than a day, it will be a miracle.

This is the second quiche I have cooked in my life, and I'd say I am learning quite a bit. The first quiche that I made was just a few months ago. I got the recipe off a forum for Weight Watchers Core Plan adherents. The main ingredient was zucchini, another food that I had never cooked with despite my parents having grown it in our garden when I was growing up. That quiche also called for fat free cheese, which I think I will avoid in favor of 2% cheese in the future. It baked up just fine in the quiche, but I don't see it working well in, say, a quesadilla. Both the zucchini and spinach quiches listed Parmesan cheese in the ingredient list, a new favorite of mine. For some reason. I've eaten grated Parmesan cheese my entire life on pasta (I am one quarter Sicilian, after all), but the introduction of shredded Parm this past year has opened up a whole new world to me.

So, you know the old adage “real men don't eat quiche”? Well, I'm pretty sure it was a man who first made quiche for me. Well, a boy technically, because I was in high school. Once a month my French class would have a party and those who wanted extra credit could make crêpes or a quiche. I'm not going to say that it was the boys who needed the extra credit more, but come party time, they were the ones pulling out casserole dishes from their backpacks. They would even argue with each other over which quiche was the best and who had the best technique. (Same with who cooked up the best crêpes, and they were more than happy to point out what the guy at the griddle was doing wrong.)

My friend Derek was the first to introduce me to the crustless quiche, and it was quite the revelation. The crust has always been a bit of a barrier to me for making quiche. I also don't make pies. My grandpa Coburn claims that my grandmother made the best pie in Allegan and that is why he married her. She has passed down her husband-winning pie crust recipe to my mother, and now that Grandma is gone, those are the only pies that my grandfather will happily eat. Much as I loved my grandmother, and love my mother, I do not like those pie crusts. They are completely tasteless to me. So any normally crusty dish with the word “crustless” in its title makes my antennae perk up!

If there is a secret to making a crustless quiche, I don't know what it is. The zucchini quiche was made to be crustless, but the spinach wasn't. I just didn't make one and followed the recipe (minus something called speck) as written, and it turned out quite tasty! (Though I think I'll add more salt next time, and possibly mushrooms.) One item that surprised me was nutmeg. I've only ever used nutmeg in baking desserts, so I was a bit skeptical at first. But let me tell you, it was fantastic in this recipe! I look forward to using nutmeg in more main course cooking.

While the quiche was baking and making my apartment smell amazing, I finally got around to unpacking some of my Christmas gifts. My brother bought me a set of three glass bowls with plastic lids that I can use to not only store my numerous leftovers, but reheat them later in the oven. Or in my brand new toaster oven that my mother gave me! I am very excited about the toaster oven (though it is probably only twice the size of my regular oven) and can't wait to make toast with it. And other things. I just really like toast and haven't had it for a long time.

My grandpa Pirrone (told you I was part Sicilian) found some more dishes of the old set that he and Grandma had given me years ago when I first moved out of my parents' house, so I unpacked those, too. And included in the mystery box of newspaper wrapped packages was... *trumpets sound* a mixing bowl! It's not a large mixing bowl, but it has much deeper sides than what I have been using, so I am hoping to maybe – just maybe – make less of a mess on my counter in the future. Hey, stranger things have happened.

And speaking of messes, I should probably get to scraping off the dried flakes of spinach on my stove. On my next trip to Meijer, I really need to remember to pick up some more abrasive sponges. My elbows will thank me.