bakery nouveau

The day after Thanksgiving was the most bee-youtiful day I’ve seen here in the Emerald City for quite some time.

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The sun was out, the air was cool and crisp, and we were hungry.

I could not think of a better time to explore a new bakery.

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Bakery Nouveau is a small trek from our humble abode. It’s in West Seattle, or West Emerald City, as we like to call it–an area you don’t really go to unless you live there.

It’s cute.

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It’s charming.

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And, apparently, they’re hiding all the delicious baked goods there.

Cases upon beautiful cases of baked goods.

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But what to order?

At 9 am, I couldn’t exactly justify ordering what I really wanted to order.

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Could I?

See, you probably thought I meant ordering one slice of carrot cake.

I meant the whole dang row.

But I restrained myself. Back to the drawing board.

It wasn’t exactly lunch time either, so I didn’t feel right ordering this lovely baguette sandwich.

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You could wrap a sardine and liver sandwich in brown paper and raffia and I’d still order it.

I’m a sucker for packaging.

And speaking of packaging…

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Have you ever seen chocolates this gorgeous?

I haven’t. But I couldn’t order 25 chocolates for breakfast without banishing myself to the treadmill all day.

Then, the perfect item came to me. It was right under my nose.

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An entire chocolate raspberry mousse cake.

No? Not a nutritious breakfast? Alright.

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How about just the mini version?

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Or the lovely mini purple one?

Still no?

Okay, okay. I get it, conscience. You just have to get in the way of everything.

Finally, I settled on a beautiful and not-so-over-the-top pastry.

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A turkey and swiss croissant. It was pretty. It was flaky.

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The cheese was melty, the turkey was smoky, and the buttery layers were crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. All around, the perfect savory croissant.

Husband went with a different variety:

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Cranberry vanilla bean. He goes for the sweet stuff, that husband ‘o mine.

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And boy did he make a good choice. The croissant part was just as superb as my turkey version, and the filling consisted of tart cranberries in a sweet vanilla-flavored sauce. My oh my.

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He also ordered a hot chocolate (husband doesn’t do coffee, thankfully–he’s sort of like Speedy Gonzalez if he consumes caffeine), which was creamy and delicious.

All in all, the perfect bakery experience.

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I’ve got to hand it to you, Bakery Nouveau: you’re charming and delicious.

When I feel lazy, I will call you to do my baking. When I feel hungry, I will visit you for lunch. When I am carrot cake deficient, I will come by for fresh supplies.

You are all the way in West Seattle, but you do hold the keys to my sweet (and savory)-toothed heart.

With all my love and devotion,

-RDG

veggie stir-fry

For our Thanksgiving dinner I had to make mashed potatoes for twenty of my nearest and dearest. 45 potatoes, 4 sticks of butter, 3 pounds of cream cheese, 2 pints of half-and-half, 1 1/2 hours and 1 million dirty dishes later, I never wanted to look at another potato again.

That’s why when it came time to throw together a little dinner yesterday, I wanted something easier and…lighter. You may have picked up by now that I’m not the healthiest cook, so when I want to make something low calorie, you know I’ve seriously overdosed on rich food. Like hospital-grade I-need-an-IV-of-vegetables overdose.

But I’m not the kind of gal who can take her veggies blended up with yogurt and wheatgrass. I still need them to be incredibly tasty. So I decided that husband and I needed a nice hefty dose of one of my favorite stand by-dishes: veggie stir-fry.

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It’s fresh, healthy, and best of all, the complete antithesis of mashed potatoes and gravy. If you’re O.D.’d on Thanksgiving fare like I am, this dish is for you.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Carrots. Fresh from the bag. Because I’m lazy.

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Spinach. A couple of big handfuls, or one pre-washed and stemmed bag. Again, because I’m lazy.

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An onion. I used a nice sweet one, but any kind would do.

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Broccoli. It must be the vegetable of the gods. I love it so.

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Mushrooms. Pre-cleaned. Noticing a pattern here?

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Asian sauces. My favorite combo is hot chili, stir-fry, and oyster. But you could use anything you’ve got in your fridge: teriyaki, hoisin, soy, garlic–whatever.

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Alrightie. Let’s get stir-fryin.

First, grab that beautiful Popeye-food and stick it in a big bowl. A really big one.

You must trust me. It’s another dish to dirty but it’s waaaaay worth it.

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Now, chop up them ‘shrooms…

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…and throw ‘em on top of the spinach.

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Chop up the onion. No need to separate all the layers. They’ll do it all by themselves in the pan.

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Throw them on top of the mushrooms.

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Choppin’ broccoli….(10 points if you can identify that reference).

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And toss those gorgeous green crowns right on top of the onion.

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Top the whole thing off with some carrots. I leave ‘em whole because I dig the crunch. But you could chop them up if you’re feeling ambitious.

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Okie dokie. Now you have a big ‘ol bowl of layered veggies. Set it right next to your pan on the stove.

Heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium-high heat.

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Toss in the carrots and saute for a few minutes. (If you’ve got garlic, by all means throw in a couple of diced cloves with the oil. My garlic mysteriously disappeared from my fridge this week, or else I would have added some myself).

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Next, toss in (you guessed it) the broccoli. Stir it around for a minute or two.

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Next, add the onion…

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…and the mushrooms, stirring well and waiting a few minutes after each addition.

By now, the broccoli should be bright green. Bee-youtiful.

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Now toss in those lovely leafy greens. You should now see the empty bottom of that huge bowl, and be thanking Rainy Day Gal for teaching you such handy kitchen shortcuts for veggies with different cooking times.

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Immediately after you add the spinach, pour 1/4 cup of water into the pan.

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Cover and let sit for 2-3 minutes.

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While the veggies are steaming, let’s throw together our sauce.

I use 1 part hot chili sauce, 2 parts stir-fry, and 3 parts oyster. You only need a total of about 1/4 cup of sauce to coat all the veggies.

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Go ahead and pour in the sauce mixture, stir well and let it hang out with the veggies for a few minutes.

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Veggies never looked this good.

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If you like your sauce a little thicker, or if not enough of the steaming water evaporated, you can always use this little trick: combine 2 tablespoons flour with 3 tablespoons water and stir it into the sauce.

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Gorgeous. Simply gorgeous.

I like to serve it over brown rice, but a simple white rice or yakisoba noodles would work nicely too.

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Come to mama.

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Deeeelish.

Make this dish for your family tonight. Their overindulged Thanksgiving tummies (and yours!) will thank you.

Happy veggie-ing!

-RDG

etsy anthology: holiday banners

The holidays are a month away.

Wait, let me repeat that, in case you didn’t hear me.

The holidays are a month away. One month.

I don’t know about you, but in the flurry that is the few weeks in between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I look sort of like a cross between Cruella de Ville and the Grinch. Gifts to pick, buy and wrap, endless parties (for which I always offer to cook something, like a complete overachiever), cards to get out, relatives in town, 100 puppies to steal–you know, that sort of thing.

It all leaves me with very little energy to do what most people look forward to the most: decorating the house.

You see, normally this would be my thing. You would think that I would deck out the house, and the halls, for every major holiday and Flag Day to boot. You would think that I would love doing junk like that.

But I don’t. These days I can’t justify overhauling my entire mantle only to have to re-do it in a few weeks. I abhor the thought of stringing lights along my gutters and hanging a wreath on my front door. It all feels like too much work.

I am officially the laziest person on the planet.

So when I stumbled across one of this cute-as-pie holiday banners on etsy a few days ago, I had a revelation: I could just hang one of those. Poof. Holiday decorating done.

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See? I could do that. This vintage-y beauty is from Jane Says (have you seen my wig around…). She’s got a killer shop and tons of cute Christmas stuff. I love the shape of the mittens–very 50’s. She’s also got a holiday giveaway coming up on her blog.

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Here’s another throwback with the scalloped edges. I love the lime green–unexpected for Christmas and gives it a kitschy feel (in a good way). Abigail’s Hope Designs makes this fun little guy (and she’s offering a 10% shop discount if you mention me in a purchase note!) .

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Oh, gingerbread men. You are so cute and delicious. This felt banner is made by Bee Love Lee, and she’s got a ton of pretty felt garlands in her shop. I would love this strung on my mantle, but it would also look fabulous on a tree.

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Okay, it’s not quite a holiday banner. But I would hang this gorgeous vintage banner by Corrieberry Pie (who also makes stunning jewlery, by the way) in my house starting at Christmas and probably never take it down.

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This pretty-as-a-picture candy cane Noel banner is made by the whimsical folks over at Monkey Moo Moo. I adore that it’s made out of card stock: simple and classic.

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And finally, what post would be complete without polka-dotted owls? These fun little guys (and gals) are made by I Sew Lucky. I love this banner not only because it’s cute as all get-out, but also because owls have nothing to do with the holidays. It’s never been done before, and I dig originality, my friends.

Happy etsy-ing, and happy (month till the) holidays!

-RDG

thanksgiving appetizer: baked brie with raspberries

Some folks think appetizers on Thanksgiving are for chumps.

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They obviously haven’t tried this baked brie with raspberries.

Yes, it’s overkill. Starting the biggest meal of the year with creamy melted cheese and berries inside a flaky crust? You’ll be full before you even start.

But a Thanksgiving without gluttony is just plain un-American.

So let’s do it.

Grab a wheel of brie.

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And a half cup of raspberries. I defrosted some frozen ones because it’s, you know, November.

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Raspberry jam. Jelly would work too. Whatever you’ve got.

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Fresh rosemary. There is nothing better.

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Crescent roll dough. I was pleasantly surprised this year to find it available in one long sheet instead of perforated into those little triangles. Makes my life much easier.

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Got all that? Good. Let’s roll.

Mash the raspberries up into a big bowl of red mush.

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Add a heaping spoonful of raspberry jam.

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Mix it all up and add a few turns of freshly ground pepper.

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Grab a few sprigs of that gorgeous rosemary.

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Chop ‘em up nice and fine.

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Toss it in the bowl with the raspberry mixture…

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…and stir it on up.

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Now, it would be great if you could let this mixture sit in the fridge overnight. It would let the rosemary hang out with the berries a little longer and give ‘em some nice flavor infusion.

I don’t plan ahead, so I can never manage for it to happen. If you do, mad props.

Unwrap that wheel ‘o cheese.

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Slice it in half. You should probably give it a taste at this point, just to make sure it’s not poisonous.

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Spread the raspberry mixture on top of one of the brie halves.

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Get a good layer of yumminess on there.

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Gently place the other half of the brie on top. Don’t let it ooze out the sides too much.

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Give cheese sandwich a whole new meaning, eh?

Now, pop that tube ‘o dough.

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I love that sound. It’s the little things.

Unroll it, spread it out…

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Cut in in half and stretch each half out a little bit.

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Set the brie on top of one half of the dough and cover with the other.

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Pinch the edges together. I always try to make it nice and pretty but it never works.

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I compensate by making a little dough leaf on top. Maybe it will distract people from the edges that look like a 4-year-old’s Play Dough art project.

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Bake at 375° for 20 minutes, or until the dough is all nice and golden.

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Oh my. I LOVE this dish. The creaminess of the cheese combines nicely with the tartness of the berries, and it all comes wrapped in a buttery, flaky crust.

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I usually serve it with pears and multigrain crackers, but a baguette would work nicely too.

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Who needs turkey when you have melty, gooey cheese?

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Seriously, people. We need to rethink this whole tradition.

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This year, I will be serving nothing but melted cheese.

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And it will be the best Thanksgiving ever.

Happy Turkey Week!

-RDG

gadgets: less paper, more books

I have a confession to make. It’s embarrassing and slightly shocking. Ready?

I don’t read paper books.

That’s right. I’ve been sucked into the world of e-reading. What would my English lit professors say?

It all started with this.

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I bought Dave a Kindle for Christmas last year. My motive was two-fold. One, he has a long commute on the bus and could read several books at a time without schlepping them all around in his laptop bag. Two, our house was being slowly overrun with books. One more Ikea Billy bookshelf and I was going to bust out the billy club.

He loves this thing. And now so do I. But don’t get me wrong, we don’t have two of them. You see, I have one of these gadgets:

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It runs my life. It’s my camera, telephone, laptop, ipod, GPS, datebook, and now, my Kindle.

This husband of mine has transformed me into this techy, gadget-loving woman. You wouldn’t even recognize me if you saw me on the street.

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The iphone has a Kindle app that I can use to access our e-library. It’s pretty dang awesome.

Here’s what I’m reading right now. Another advantage of reading on my phone–I can access several books at once. Before I would have books piled in a precarious heap on my nightstand, ready to topple over and crush me in my sleep.

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I’m one of those creatures who reads 5 books at a time. I never know what I’m going to be in the mood for.

Here’s a page from The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, which was a lovely read. You can change the font size, depending on how good your eyes are. Mine are….okay. This is a medium font size:

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See? Just like a regular ‘ol paper book but…mini. And digital. And fits in the palm of your hand. And slips into your pocket. And rocks your world.

Yes, I now do all of my reading on my phone. Well, not all. I have been known to leaf through the occasional magazine. I wonder if Dwell is available in Kindle version…

Have a book-a-licious weekend,

-RDG

loving: cool coffee makers

Three days ago, husband cracked my french press. He was washing dishes, bumped it on the edge of the sink, and my favorite kitchen appliance (and savior of my soul) was beyond repair.

I’m getting over it. I have come to realize that Frenchie went to a new and better place–a land where he can party with other discarded kitchen items and dance to reggaeton until the sun comes up.

Poor Frenchie. I kept him penned up in a cupboard all these years. He just wanted to be free.

The next morning, after I had worked my way through the denial, anger, bargaining, and depression, I was moving onto acceptance.

I ran to Target and scooped up this little lovely:

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Now don’t get me wrong. I luuurved Frenchie. But Frenchie was just plain black plastic.

This little lady, let’s call her Dolly (or Bodum Bean Spill-Proof French Press, if you want to get all technical), is a beautiful shade of green. Green. That’s right, ladies and gentelmen, coffee presses now come in lovely shades of color.

You probably already knew that. I, on the other hand, have been hiding under a rock of black coffee makers. My Capresso grind and brew? Black. Frenchie? Black. Grinder? Black. Where have I been? My kitchen, as you may have already gleaned from my cooking photos, is every shade under the sun. My dishes are (quite literally) rainbow-colored. All these years I was settling for boring old black when I could have extended my culinary color palate to my coffee accessories.

There’s not another minute to lose. My coffee must now be made by the most colorful items available. It will have it no other way.

Where to start?

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With an espresso machine I can’t afford. This sunshiney piece of espresso-making heaven is the Illy Francis Francis X1 Trio. Why Francis Francis? Probably because it’s Awesome Awesome. It’s art deco meets the Jetsons, and I need it it my kitchen. Stat. How are the espresso making capabilities? I don’t know and I don’t care (probably exceptional, given Illy’s reputation and the $700 price tag). But it could spit out coffee-colored Kool-Aid and I’d drink it as long as it came from that beautiful machine.

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My heart almost skipped a beat when I encountered this little guy. It’s like the iMac of coffeemakers. The WMF 1 Coffee Pad Machine is one of those coffee pod one-cup brew sort of deals. I must say, I’m not too keen on the prefab coffee pod phenomenon. I like my beans from Top Pot and freshly ground. But this machine is so dang cute I’d convert to coffee pods. Or capsules. Or pouches. Just lemme have this white and red cutie pie on my countertop.

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This is not a coffee maker. It’s not even a tea kettle. It’s official title, just to be clear, is Prettiest Dang Tea Kettle on the Planet. It’s no wonder I’m attracted to this baby, given my affliction for Le Creuset. Put the Ogive Teakettle on my wish list for coffee making essentials. Dolly, after all, needs a companion to warm up her water for her.

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I’ve never ventured into the realm of stovetop espresso making, but if I were to do it, I’d want the Bialetti Mini Express by my side. I can just picture two of us on a sunny sunday morning. Bialetti would be on the stove, two tiny espresso cups under his copper spouts, collecting delicious little shots of caffeine. I’d be reading the paper and glancing out the window at the Champs-Elysees…

Apparently when I own this espresso maker I live in France. Maybe Dolly wants me to take her back to her homeland.

Oh, no. I’ve taken another french press hostage.

Happy coffee making and have a wonderful thursday!

-RDG

crock pot gyros

You can’t keep me away from a good gyro.

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I want them.

I need them.

And now, I can make them myself.

I stumbled across this recipe for crock pot gyros during a visit to Stephanie O’Dea’s website, A Year of Slow Cooking. I must say, this lady and her Crock Pot got it goin on. Say what you will about slow cookers. Some cooks love them (myself included), and some think that their recent comeback is like re-introducing Jello salad into haute cuisine.

Personally, I can’t imagine my life without my slow cooker. We’re in a relationship. And it’s serious.

So when I saw this recipe, I immediately trotted off to the grocery to pick up the ingredients so my Crock Pot and I could give it a shot (I tweaked the recipe a bit to suit my own personal taste, so bear in mind it’s not an exact replica of the original).

First, you’ll need:

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A head of garlic, one lemon, and one yellow onion.

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Ground lamb. About a pound of it. Stick it in a bowl so we can add some more junk to it.

Don’t be afraid of the lamb, my darlings. You can handle it just as you do any other red meat.

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Ground turkey (or chicken, or pork, or beef–whatever tickles your tootsies). About a half pound. Dump it on into the bowl.

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Add one teaspoon of paprika,

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two teaspoons of oregano,

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one teaspoon of salt (kosher, please),

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and top it all off with a few turns of freshly ground black pepper.

Now’s the part when you have to get adventurous and trust me.

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Dump the whole thing into the food processor.

I know, I know.

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Pulse for a few minutes to get it all nice and combined.

Never thought you’d see raw meat in your Cuisinart, huh?

Me neither.

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Grab your onion and hack it in half.

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Peel and give it a rough dice. Nothin fancy–just a quick chop.

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Grab about four cloves of garlic. Five if you’re ambitious. Ten if you’re certifiable.

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Get ‘em smashed and nekkid.

Boy am I naughty.

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Give those a rough chop too.

Now it’s time to get brave again.

Summon all of your culinary strength.

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Grab the meat mixture out of the food processor and shape it into a sort of oblong ball/log shape. Football, maybe?

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Toss the chopped garlic and onion into the bottom of the slow cooker and place the meat log on top.

Yes, I just said “meat log.”

Oh, boy I hope this recipe is worth it.

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Grab that beauty of a lemon and hack it in half.

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Squeeze both halves over the meat.

Make sure to squirt some lemon juice onto your camera. It’s good for it.

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Put a lid on it and cook on low for 4 hours, or high for 2 hours.

Go twiddle your thumbs and wait for your house to fill with the delicious smell of cooking gyro meat.

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Ta-da!

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Carve it on up, baby.

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Grab some fixins. I chose lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and feta cheese.

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And, of course, a ton of Tzatziki sauce. Mad props (and much deliciousness) if you make your own.

Me? I unfortunately went with the store-bought kind. It was meh.

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Don’t forget the pita bread. It’s mighty tasty warmed in the oven.

Now, built it, stack it, and get ready for some serious yum.

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Does it get better than this?

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I think not.

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My, my, my.

If you love your family you will make these for them tonight.

Opa!

Happy cooking,

-RDG