All posts by Miss J

Mayonnaise Cake

chocolate mayonnaise cakeYesterday morning I saw something online that was like “Make the best cake with this ONE WEIRD THING” and of course I am entirely powerless to resist bizarre ingredients in foods.  Turns out that weird thing was…mayonnaise!  Eww, kind of.  Mayo isn’t the most appealing of items.  But I’d heard of this before and had already been ensnared by the siren’s call of weird ingredients so I went to the fridge to see if I had enough mayonnaise to try it.  I also have a weird love of recipes from food manufacturers so this appealed to me on many levels. Continue reading Mayonnaise Cake

Ginger Tea

ginger tea

When I lived in Hawaii I got sick fairly often (hello germs I wasn’t used to) and a co-worker introduced me to very sweet, very spicy ginger tea.  There was a Korean grocery store across the street from my work so I’d buy a large jar and it would last me through cold season.

Since then I have moved away from Hawaii and although Houston has many Korean grocery stores, they are not directly across the street from my work and I’m usually too lazy to drive to get ginger tea, especially when I’m sick.  So, of course, the solution is to make it myself!

Continue reading Ginger Tea

DIY Cranberry Sauce

cranberry sauce

This year I have been asked to make Thanksgiving, which I have never done before on my own.  Naturally this has led to a great deal of cooking via project management (see also: Project: Christmas Cookies — which clearly explains why I didn’t get a lot of dates in high school).  I’ll document the insanity I have resorted to for Thanksgiving planning in another post.

But part of that planning was that I was not going to make my own cranberry sauce.  “The can is fine!” I said.  “Don’t obsess about making everything from scratch!”  Yeah right.  Next thing I knew I’d gone to the grocery store and had a black out moment and come home with a giant bag of cranberries.  Then I read you can make cranberry sauce a week ahead.  OH FINE, I’ll just make it.

Continue reading DIY Cranberry Sauce

BBQ Venison

pulled bbq venisonIt’s been a week like no other here in Houston, waiting out Hurricane Harvey and what became the never ending rain that followed.  I was extremely, extremely fortunate in that my house didn’t flood and I had power the whole time.  It was just a very frightening long weekend, waiting to see if my house would flood overnight and then waking up to see on the news that many houses had.  If you can, please try to donate to a reputable charity to help those impacted by the severe storm. Continue reading BBQ Venison

Prinsesstårta (Princess Cake)

princess cakeThis spring I visited Berlin, which should be the subject of its own post, but one of the strangest parts of the entire trip was ending up at a Berlin IKEA with a herd of goths.  While I was there, I participated in an event for which there was an introductory session for a few hours, then we had to break for dinner before the event itself.  We were way out away from everything and “How to do dinner?” was a challenging question.  The answer was far more surreal than any of us had expected — there was an IKEA (with its cafeteria) within walking distance.  So there we were, probably fifty people, occupying a range from “looks fairly mainstream” to “I know no other color but black,” descending upon IKEA.

It was fantastic fun!  However, since this page is about cooking, how does this relate?  Is this post about Swedish meatballs?  While I should try to make those, it is instead about prinsesstårta, a.k.a. Princess Cake.   Continue reading Prinsesstårta (Princess Cake)

Tres Leches with Strawberries

tres leches with strawberries

This weekend is Memorial Day here in Texas, but also my grandmother-in-law’s 89th birthday.  She requested “bird’s nest cake” or “poke cake.”  I wasn’t sure what bird’s nest cake was (later discovered it was hummingbird cake!) so poke cake it was.  A poke cake is a cake where you pierce the top with a fork and then pour liquid on top of it for extra flavor or to make it very moist.

A lot of poke cake recipes seemed to just be normal cake with colorful juice or liquid poured on top, which didn’t sound very delicious.  What is the best poke cake in the world?  Tres leches.

Continue reading Tres Leches with Strawberries

Shakshuka of a sort


Shakshuka is a really popular recipe right now, although I had never heard of it until recently.  But the pictures all looked so striking and delicious and eggs poached in tomato sauce sounded like a fabulous idea!  I’ve been including a lot more eggs in my diet lately and also more vegetarian meals.  This has become one of my favorite dishes for lunch.

However, what I make isn’t quite shakshuka.  Let’s call it shakshukish.  I made real shakshuka once and enjoyed it, but I found myself wishing for tomato sauce flavored more like marinara sauce.   So then I made it that way, with parmesan cheese on top instead of feta.  But then I missed the feta.  So now it’s marinara sauce for me…with feta!

Continue reading Shakshuka of a sort

Turkish red lentil soup

Turkish red lentil soup

There is a wonderful Turkish restaurant named Istanbul Grill in Rice Village in Houston.  Their meats are always full of flavor and they have a rice pilaf with chickpeas that I could eat forever.  But what always makes me think of going there is their red lentil soup.  A few years ago a friend recommended it to me and I’ve been in love since.  It is the perfect soup for a cold day.

Unfortunately right now in Houston it’s been hitting the 80s in February.  But between bouts of existential dread at global warming we have had a few chilly days and I decided to try making Turkish red lentil soup myself. Continue reading Turkish red lentil soup

Project: Christmas Cookies

For the past six years I’ve undertaken a project which sounds simple, but is in fact deceptively complex:  Christmas cookies.  I’m not Christian, so really these are just “random cookies my friends get in the mail in December,” but I still really enjoy and celebrate a secular Christmas so who cares what they’re called!

This began because I have a lot of friends who unfortunately live all over the United States.  They mean a lot to me and I wanted to give them something for Christmas.  However, I also didn’t want to start a horrible cycle where you not only have to worry about presents for your family but also for friends and no one really knows what to send or how much to spend and do they even need socks and we all have too much stuff anyway and wait why am I buying my friends presents?  No one wants this.  But everyone enjoys cookies.  And they are the present that gives and then stops giving after you eat them and they no longer take up space in your house. Continue reading Project: Christmas Cookies

Project Christmas Cookies: Scope

peanut butter cookies

So while I could keep sending cookies to an increasing list of people every year, my time and cost would also keep increasing.  I’ve found that my good middle ground is send to about 12-15 people/households.  So 12-15 boxes that I need cookies for and then have to package and mail.

I could make 10,000,000 chocolate chip cookies and send everyone those and I’m sure people would be thrilled.  But I like having a variety of things in each box, just a few of many different kinds of cookies.  So before cooking every year I have to make sure that I’m making both a good mix and also making enough so everyone has a satisfying amount of cookies.  In the end it’s a bit too little when sent to a family and a bit too much when sent to a single person, but I figure it’s free cookies in the mail so who complains?

Just remember:  Do not let your cookie list grow out of control (a.k.a. avoid cookie scope creep). Continue reading Project Christmas Cookies: Scope