Culinary forays and failures

My current nemesis.

Home for the second weekend this semester, I immediately jumped into Betty Crocker mode. Cooking is a favorite hobby and stress reliever for me. Apparently I must be really stressed already because I made a casserole and a cake last week in Cactus Land and followed up with meat loaf/shepherd’s pie, two potato salads and home made ice cream here at home.

In any case, some things have turned out better than others.

The black bean tortilla casserole was delish–even better the second day. I added extra red pepper flakes and garlic, of course.

The potato salads will be tasty. They’re currently hanging out in the fridge letting the yummy flavors coalesce.

The meat loaf? To. Die. For. (If I don’t say so myself.) See below for rough recipe.

Sadly, the ice cream is an uphill battle. I made my first custard-based ice cream in July after my dear sis Emily gave me an ice cream maker for my bday. The ice cream was good, but I boiled the custard in inadvertently and it wasn’t the creamy wonder that it should have been. So this time, I was ready. T requested vanilla, so I bought the OUTRAGEOUSLY expensive vanilla bean pods, and got to work. I carefully measured the ingredients, stirred the pot obsessively and was thrilled not to let a single boil happen in three cycles on the stove. BUT, the damn thing curdled anyway. What, what, what?

I was just reading in Cooking Light that a common cooking error is letting milk products curdle on the stove, but they referenced low-fat items. Given the full fat half & half on my stove, I figured it wouldn’t be a problem for me. Umm, wrong. The biggest issue I had was not realizing what custard should actually look like. I was thinking thick, like pudding. Apparently not! Stove stirred custard should be relatively thin, just enough to coat a metal spoon, and a good 20 degrees away from boiling. The things you learn from the internets.

After throwing away custard round 1, I am attempting custard round 2. If this doesn’t work, I’m swearing off fatty ice cream and only making sorbet as long as I live!

In any case, here’s a meat loaf recipe you MUST try if you are a meat/garlic lover.


  • 1.5 pounds of lean ground beef
  • 1 slice of bread crumbled (I used a big hunk of dense, crusty Italian bread from costco, sans crust)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup dark beer (you can use milk or stock)
  • Several tablespoons Worchestershire sauce (I didn’t measure, but just kept shaking the bottle until the meat was slightly brownish instead of reddish. Yeah, it’s totally attractive)
  • Many garlic cloves, chopped or pressed (I used 5-6 big ones. I like me some garlic)
  • Thyme, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning
  • Chopped red onion (1/2 a big onion)
1. Heat oven to 375
2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix with your hands
3. Bake at 375 for an hour or so. (Internal temp should hit 160)
To make it extra fantastic, top with mashed potatoes and cheddar cheese. Bake until cheese is melty.

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