Cooking again

After a summer of watermelons and popsicles, Fall finds me ready to cook something warm, and thick, and hearty. Something with substance. Something to sustain me over the 9-day winters of southern Texas. Okay, maybe sustenance isn't what I need exactly; it's more like comfort. Yes. That's it precisely. Bring on the comfort food.

You know what else seems quintessentially Fall to me? Pragmatism. In the Fall months I'm all about buckling down, getting things organized, checking things off my list. And thus, for your perusing pleasure, some practical matters concerning cooking: 

1.  I've recently been cooking from The Family Flavor, a new cookbook I came across through the blog, The Little Red House. The author of the blog, Sheena Jibson, is the photographer of the cookbook. Got all that?  At any rate, the cookbook, so far, is great and I'm extending my whole-hearted recommendation. Lots of flavor and fresh, unprocessed foods, but not so foodie that you need 3 1/2 hours just to prepare the side dish. So far I've made the Cheesy Chicken & Rice (which my family loved), the Curry and Yogurt Roast Chicken, and the Cornbread & Beef Bake with Sweet Potatoes & Green Chiles. I also have all of the ingredients to make Slow-Cooker Italian Sausage & Vegetable Soup, and honestly? I'm pretty darn excited about it.


2.  Sheena Jibson, the photographer, is also quite the cook. Her Baked Eggs with Tomato, Parmesan, and Fresh Herbs is my favorite breakfast. I make one serving (it takes about three minutes) and throw it into my toaster oven after I get the kiddos off to school. The result is smoky and rich and delightful, like something you'd get at a quaint little brunch place in Brooklyn. Except I'm in Houston. And often there are dirty dishes. Try it. I promise you'll love it.

3.  BULK HERBS!  Am I the only person who has wrongly ignored the bulk herb section of the grocery store?

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Lately, I've been buying small packets of bulk herbs and refilling my existing jars (McCormick, Morton & Bassett, Central Market). I know this sounds mundane. But seriously folks, I get a little giddy as I'm hunched over the big jars of spices -- using the tiny scoop to move the spices from jar to bag. I feel like I'm getting the deal of the century.

See the big owl pictured above? It holds 1/3 cup. That's 1/3 of a cup of basil. And guess how much that cost? 11 cents! You can't buy ANYTHING for 11 cents. Except basil. And I LOVE basil. Are you catching my excitement? 

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The 11 cent package is empty because I dumped it into the owl measuring cup to see just how much volume you got for 11 cents. Holy cow. Just imagine how much basil I could get for $1.00. The possibilities are endless. My mind is spinning. BASIL. That is all.

I also bought 54 cents worth of sage and 28 cents of thyme. I know. I'm getting jiggy with it.

I'm thinking I need to beautify my spices by corralling them all into a system like this or this. It's totally my style to spend the savings I garnered in bulk shopping on pretty organizational items. Don't judge me.