This Week’s Box: The Brussels Sprout & Mitiake Mushroom Challenge …

As you may recall, I receive a box of organic produce delivered to my doorstep twice a month.  And it’s almost like being on a cooking challenge show because you never know what you’re going to get!  (I suppose I forgot to check off brussels sprouts and Mitiake mushrooms from my list of things I don’t want. Womp womp.)  Honestly, I’ve never heard of Mitiake mushrooms before meeting them on Wednesday morn when they appeared on my front porch.

And truth be told, I haven’t eaten a brussels sprout since I was a 3rd grader & spent the night at a friend’s house where, much to my dismay, I was served brussels sprouts.  My eyes widened and I cringed, they smelled terrible & the polite little girl in me gracefully pushed them around on my plate after trying one bite and nearly gagging.  My friend’s parents were not very understanding and made me eat 5 more bites!  I thought I was going to throw up, and then considered calling my mom to come and rescue me from this veritable house of horrors.

So when the brussels sprouts showed up on my door this week, I was thinking oh man, I really have to go online and scrutinize my “preferences” list!  Then I scoured my mind for friends who might want 9 oz of brussels sprouts.  And then I remembered my declaration (here on this blog) that I wanted to conquer new culinary frontiers & THIS was a challenge!

So I searched for brussels sprouts recipes & voila: Bacon + Brussels Sprouts = right up my alley! I mean, how can you go wrong with bacon?  Answer: you can’t.  Hell, I could eat cardboard with bacon on top of it. So, kudos to Katerina & her kick-ass recipe.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon ~
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon ~ Photo by

So then on to the Mitiake mushrooms … I knew that a skirt steak would be a good start & it would be easy to make a nice mushroom sauce, so again, off to the web to find a recipe.  Even though I love to riff off a recipe, I pretty much followed it to the tee, only because I was too tired to mess around with it.   Next time I would add in garlic and instead of using chicken broth, use beef broth, and instead of butter, use cream.

I served it up with some wild rice & The Husband loved it all!  And even though he told me “I’m not that hungry tonight,” homie cleaned his plate!  The entire meal from prep to table only took me a little over an hour.  Score!

2013 Bake-It List

Yes, I did, I wrote Bake-It List instead of Bucket List.  And in posting this, I am hereby committing to doing this!  What is a Bake-It List you ask?  Very much like a Bucket List, but instead of things like sky-diving or learning French, my Bake-It List will include things I want to bake, but have been too timid (or lazy) to attempt.

I was talking to The Husband the other day, right around New Years, and telling him that I have been wanting to make cinnamon rolls from scratch for a year now, ever since I received my gorgeous standing Kitchen-Aid Mixer from him last Christmas.  “Why haven’t you?” He asked me.  Well, the truth is, I’m a little intimidated.  The recipes that intrigue me are lengthy & look extraordinarily time consuming.  I wanted to make them for Christmas this year, and even got up super early to do so, but then chickened out.  I will need to have a couple of test runs to perfect the recipe, (just like when I made toffee for the first time this holiday season.  No, it didn’t turn out right either time, but most people didn’t seem to notice or care.)

good cooks | The Fairly Good Mother

Truth be told, I am an excellent cook, (if I do say so myself,) but baking is sort of my nemesis.  It has always been something that I’ve had to really work at.  However, the things I do bake every year for the holidays are awesome, but have taken YEARS to perfect & they are now easy staples to me.  A while back, I sat and reflected about why I’m a better cook than a baker … Well, here’s the easy answer, I love improvising & I suck at math.  When you cook, you can substitute things, add more of something, subtract an ingredient, eyeball a measurement.  But when you bake, oh no, you must be PRECISE!  Everything needs to be measured out perfectly and timed.

Cooking relaxes me, (which is why I cook every night,) but baking stresses me out, (well, except for the things I have mastered: pumpkin bread, zucchini bread, lemon cake, rum cake, chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal walnut cookies, peanut butter balls, fudge, strawberry cake, cheesecake, apple pie …)  But I think back to the first time that I made chocolate cake from scratch.  I was eleven & it was my  mother’s birthday.  I threw out the first two attempts & finally settled on the third try simply because I was running out of time.  It was terrible, but she would NEVER have told me that.  Even to this day, she maintains it was delicious.  I knew it was awful.  Even my seven year old chocoholic brother was gagging.

It took me 10 years to belly up to the chopping block & give it another whirl.  Again, my poor mother was the subject of my culinary affections.  Again, two cakes down the drain, third one had to be the “one” because it was 3am & I was exhausted.  I don’t know what my obsession with chocolate cake is, that’s not even her favorite kind of cake!   I wrote her a poem as a back-up present in case the cake was awful.  Good thing, because “awful’ isn’t even the best description of this epic failure.  This cake sucked the moisture right out of your mouth!  I apparently used way too much cocoa & not the right kind of flour!  It easily weighed 5 pounds!  My mom (again) praised my efforts, but told me later that I shouldn’t have gone to so much trouble for her, that using a box cake is just as good as homemade and so much easier.  That was her polite way of saying, “please, daughter, never do this again.”

My step-dad and my brother will never let me forget that cake.  Never.  Every time I bring over a homemade baked good, I’m met with, “is there cocoa in here?”  I have to laugh.  It’s a funny family joke.  But guess what?  Joke’s on them, her birthday is later this month & I am D E T E R M I N E D to bake her the perfect chocolate cake … from scratch.  Ok, maybe not chocolate.  I think we have worn out our welcome with the cocoa, but there are other cakes & cupcakes I want to make from scratch.

Strawberry Cake!  (FYI, I'm no food photog, this much I know, but it was DeeeLISH!)
Strawberry Cake! (FYI, I’m no food photog, this much I know, but it was DeeeLISH!)

So here’s my Bake-It List for 2013 (I’ll add to it as I think of more things I want to bake:)

  1. Cinnamon Rolls
  2. Tiramisu
  3. Cupcakes from scratch, like a lot of them  (Valentine’s cupcakes to start with, Mint Chocolate Chip cupcakes for St. Patty’s day, Surprise Cupcakes with the cream cheese middle & many more . No link, I have a 360 page book called 500 Cupcakes that should keep me busy.)
  4. Red Velvet Cake
  5. Vanilla Bean Cake
  6. Apple Fritters
  7. Dare I say … Chocolate Cake?  Heehee.
  8. Carrot Cake

What’s on your Bake-It List?