Strawberry Fields Forever
Strawberry season in Oregon. It is a coveted time that both Erik and I eagerly await each year. Now, I grew up in California where sunshine and berries are plentiful almost year round. I will say Cali strawberries are tasty, however, they’re crap compared to Oregon berries.
Yes, crap. The berries you can get at the supermarket are good. They’re big, red-ish, usually sweet and look pretty when delicately laid on a cake. But Oregon berries… They’re smaller, usually a deep dark red and are bursting with sweet goodness. Seriously, you could make jam with them without adding a single grain of sugar. Slice some into a cup of honey greek yogurt and you have a most delicious, healthy treat. But summer is coming and I think that all dairy based treats should be in frozen form for optimal body temperature regulation!
Berry stands are just starting to pop up all over out here, but I was in a rush so I grabbed a few cartons of berries from the store just to try this recipe out. Needless to say it was very successful and I will be making these over and over and over while the Oregon berries are here. I even ordered more popsicle molds to accomplish this!
Men are coming.
Sure most of them are your run of the mill type nerds, but they’re also men. They hunger, for competition and MEAT. (Not that I’m saying women don’t also enjoy a platter of dead animal, but our playgroup is 99% dudes most times.)
I love these kinds of meals for our gaming groups. I can cook a giant tub of food and they dish up to their desire. Add a bag of corn chips or some freshly baked corn bread and they’ll go until they’re stuffed or the chili runs out. The latter doesn’t happen too often, this makes a ton of chili! Seriously, I barely have room to stir in my 6 quart cooker. Well, without making a huge mess. So make sure you have a LARGE pot or just halve the recipe. Do what you want, I’m not your boss.
Using the slow cooker is awesome for this as well. Not only does the long cooking make the flavors super intricate, I set it to cook in the morning and by time the guys all show up it’s ready to go at any time! This allows them to get a few games in to work up a hunger or some to eat now and some to eat later without ever having to reheat, just keep it on warm.
The original recipe I pulled this from uses a ton of beans and that’s cool, but I have picky eater issues with them still and because I’m the chef here, I do what I want! So beans are out, making this the meatiest chili you can handle! It’s also pretty spicy, so if you are more ‘sensitive’ you may want to cut back on the spicy ingredients. It’s no 2AM Chili but it’s damn fine in my book.
Taken in February. Plants have exploded out of everywhere since then.
Well we bought a house on 1.08 acres back in December…annnnd it’s June already. The hell? I’ve officially dubbed it Castle Whimsy (Erik wants something else, but since he hasn’t come up with a better one, it is what it is.) and it is now the base of all operations!
Before we had even moved in we put together a painting party consisting of mostly my friends from work and tackled probably 50% of the interior with paint. I paid them in beers, bacon pancakes and stew and they knocked that shit out! My mom came over several times to (repeatedly) paste wallpaper up in the living room. *Note to others, do not trust pre-pasted wallpaper!* Once that was all set, Erik’s brother came over and helped us hang crown molding and chair rail to really finish off the Victorian feel. So far it’s turning out a more modernish spin on steampunk. We will eventually redo the entire kitchen to roll in with it! Right now it’s very… country. *shudder*
Molding going up. It really changed the whole room!
6 months later I’ve finally hung my curtains in the living room and the weather has been nice enough for us to start on some yard projects. I’ve barely touched my computer in the last 2 weeks or so. Being mostly settled in now, this marks the start of me being able to get back into small and large crafting and creation projects that I hope to share. We’ve got a whole acre… there’s gonna be a lot!
As summer draws to a close I start to get really excited. Now don’t get me wrong, I do love summer. There was a point in my childhood where I basically lived in the pool my every waking moment. But that’s the thing isn’t it? Summer is made for outside activities, not cooking (unless it’s a BBQ of course). So as we get closer to fall and winter and the days get cooler and nights even more so, baking can again return to the kitchen without having to run the AC to counteract.
The fall brings with it delicious, starchy veggies that just beg to be made into soups and stews that warm your insides while the outside world starts to get cold, windy and wet. I know we’ve still got almost 2 weeks until fall technically starts, but here in Oregon we got our first rain since July and Erik woke up miserable with a cold (actually it’s Con Plague from his co-worker). So dinner tonight almost begged to be a chicken soup type dish. And if you’re going to do chicken soup, why not make it even more amazing by making it pie?!
…for the best shredded chicken for tacos EVER.
Ok ok, I may be exaggerating a little, but I haven’t had better…yet.
These are somewhat similar to my beef tacos so far as I cook them both in a slow cooker and use all the same toppings. The only thing with these is the ingredients are stupidly simple. Now, I COULD say they’re “So easy a caveman could do it” but I prefer, it’s so easy that if my cat had thumbs she would be making this daily. (Of course the cat having thumbs would probably create a whole ‘nother set of problems that this world is just not prepared for.)
After I made this amazing chicken and fed it all to my very, very lucky coworkers I still had some leftovers. Now I could probably eat these tacos for a week straight, but why not mix it up in form a little?
Enter the Tostada!