What WOULD Bekki Eat?

Well, I'll start with what I wouldn't eat. I wouldn't eat margarine. Or tofu. Or lowered-fat anything. Olestra is right out. Hydrolyzed, isolated, evaporated, enriched, or chocolate flavored "phood" won't pass these lips.
What will I eat? Real food. Made-at-home food. Food that my great-great-grandmother could have made, if she had the money and the time. And if she hadn't been so busy trick-riding in a most unladylike way.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Premature Celebration

I called it too soon. I thought my computer woes were over.


'Twould seem my hardware likes neither Ubuntu nor Windows. I just can't win. I'm contemplating using my laptop for skeet shooting, but not until I replace it somehow.

Maybe I shouldn't replace it. Maybe I should embrace the fact that technology hates me and turn Luddite.

Hmmm... this will require some research into just how barbaric Luddites were... I think I'll google it.

Friday, November 30, 2007

I'm baaaack!

Y'all would not believe all the sheeyit that has happened in the last month. Since this is a food blog and not a geek blog, I'll summarize by saying that I got fed up with Microsoft products and stubbornly chucked it all in favor of Ubuntu. Which would have worked fine on ANY OTHER COMPUTER BUT MINE. For what it's worth, if you ever have the chance to buy a really cheap laptop from Wal-Mart, DON'T. Especially if said laptop is a Gateway, oh excuse me, I meant eMachines.


I'm back... with Windows. And I'm ok with that.

I hope to share a collage of photos of some of the lovely things I ate during the last month, especially some of the dishes in New Orleans. And then just keep on chugging in whatever direction this blog goes. I'm officially off gluten for life now, but I'm not sure the world needs another gluten-free blog, so... I'll just talk about bacon a lot.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Temporarily Indisposed

Sorry, loyal readers, to not be posting in a timely manner. My mother is in town, and we are much distracted.

I promise to play catch-up, with all the lovely pictures and recipes, as soon as I can.

Until then, may all your onions be bacony, all your grits creamy, all your salt grey (or at least not white) and all your pepper freshly ground.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Roast Chicken

"Tastes like Fall" my hubby said. I had just said that it tasted like "solid chicken soup." I meant it in a good way. I don't think it actually IS fall here, and I doubt we even get fall in San Antonio. I haven't lived here long enough to know. But, since we are at about the same latitude as Orlando, I'm guessing we have two seasons. Summer and Not Summer. We're almost to Not Summer now... we had a week of chilly nights... but we're warming up again. After all, it is San Antonio. Christmas just won't be Christmas without steaks on the grill and cocktails on the patio.

But, I digress. Roast chicken is what I'm supposed to be talking about. I get a newsletter from the French Food section of About.com. There was a featured recipe for Roasted Lemon Rosemary Chicken. Yumm-o, thought I. I was planning a roasted chicken tonight, anyway. How serendipitous. As usual, I didn't follow the recipe 100%. A recipe is more a set of guidelines, anyway (say I in me best imitation of Captain Barbosa.) I used fewer veggies (just feeding two adults), didn't bother salting and peppering during the browning, and didn't really get the chicken all that brown. Oh, and I used vermouth instead of Chardonnay. Because Julia Child told me it's ok. (Chardonnay never lasts 'round here... someone just keeps drinking it...)

I also didn't use fresh herbs... which I'm sure Julia would not ok, but I haven't started growing any and they're too darn expensive. So there.

It still smelled divine while it was cooking, and tasted even better. I tore up some red leaf lettuce and topped it with lemon-garlic vinaigrette... perfect meal. Well, almost. Next time I will make these adjustments: quartered baby potatoes, lots more garlic (the whole cloves, steeped in chicken broth and vermouth, were ambrosia), and I'll just skip the silly browning of the chicken. Instead I'll remove the cover with about 20 minutes left.

Guacamole of the Gods

Sooo... I fried up some bacon earlier... in my stainless-steel pan, for a change. And I was left with stuck-on bacony goodness. What to do? My planned lunch didn't need any bacon (odd, I know.) A beautiful idea began to form... boozey, bacony guacamole. I could deglaze the pan with tequila... and add that to the guacamole... and be in heaven.

So, I did it. And I am.

Here's the sort-of recipe:

An avocado, quite ripe and smooshed up in a bowl
Juice from 1/2 a lime, squeezed over smooshed avocado
2 heaping spoonfuls of salsa verde (don't use regular salsa, the resulting guac looks like vomit)
several shakes of green Tabasco
stuck-on bacony goodness (not in a non-stick pan)
1 shot tequila
Grey salt, to taste

While the pan is still hot, or after you've gotten it hot again (about medium heat, don't want to catch anything on fire), toss in the shot of tequila. Whisk FAST to loosen the bits of bacony goodness. Pour the bacony booze (already reduced to about half) into the bowl with the avocado. Stir everything together, sample, and tweak seasonings.

Next time I think I'll include crumbled bacon. The bacon flavor is kind of lost, although I think the tequila adds divinity.

Sunday Coupon Rant, part 2

This morning's paper yielded only one batch of coupons, so there's much less to rant about. However, to ensure that my loyal readers aren't shorted, I will also include a CVS ad WTF Were They Thinking rant.

So ranty. And on only one cup of insipid coffee.

I'll start small. The coupon for Arm & Hammer liquid detergent, now "2x Concentrated." "Half the size, same number of loads," they actually include a visual aid showing the sizes, in case you don't understand. Not unusual... coupons ads are stupid. What makes it worth my rant? The actual coupon. Save $1 on 2. IF IT'S TWICE AS CONCENTRATED, WHY DO I NEED TWO?!?!?
Keep one for myself and give the other as a gift??

On to one of my favorite new stupid items... the Air Wick FreshSweep. It's a broom, same as always, but with Stick Ups inside. So when you sweep you release air freshener. So your house "smells fresh and clean." This is just so stupid. First of all, artificial fragrances just suck. Secondly, if you want your house to smell fresh and clean... clean it. How about actually making something BE what you want it to be, instead of covering up the problem? Wouldn't that be a novel concept in our society?

And, finally (for the coupons)- they hand-fed me a rant. I just couldn't NOT rant about this. Those who know me well will understand. Beech Nut baby food... their newest gimmick is specially-labelled "Good Morning/Good Evening" jars. Because moms are, after all, too dumb to figure out how to feed their kids. But, that's the whole premise behind the blockbuster baby-feeding industry and a whole 'nother rant. And I'll admit, some moms ARE too dumb. So, anyhow... on the page they've got a section for each, and the Good Morning section says (I kid you not) "Fiber to Keep Babies Satisfied."
My jaw dropped.
Where else have we all heard about fiber? To what segment of the population is it heavily marketed? People on diets, right? Are the babies of America on a diet?! Fiber to keep them satisfied??? Well, of course we don't want the whiny brats asking for more food before lunchtime. Make 'em think they're full! Make 'em think they're getting what they need. They AREN'T, but as long as they're quiet, who cares?
Double grrrrrrr...

On to CVS-

Are these items related?: Page 4 of the ad has a grouping of ridiculous items. The Grill Master and I came to our own conclusions as to how they relate to each other. They are: gumball machine, handheld massagers, binoculars, wet/dry shaver, hot chocolate pot, and a mug warmer. Let me know how you think they go together!

I think they've finally run out of ideas: Page 9 shows a collection of bath and body products that share the same, weird scent- whipped cream on a walnut. When I told the Grill Master he had to shake his head and have me say it again. Then he had to get up and come see it for himself. We agree that they must have finally run out of weird combinations for "new" smells. Lavender-Mint, Vanilla-Rose, Cinnamon Bun are too old-school. I sometimes wonder if they have a database of smell words that they randomly combine.

These things DO go together: On page 19 there are items near each other that do, unfortunately, go together. I wish I had time to provide links, to show you why, but I need breakfast. The items are- an insulin pen, Boost (sugar-laden, dead milk-based, plastic-protein-enhanced "nutritional beverage,") and Triscuits (extruded glutenous, simple-carb "healthy" snack.)
Yes, these items are related... buy the food, get the chance to use the insulin free!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Gone Cajun Again

Or, perhaps Creole. I don't know. The fact that I was inspired by an Emeril recipe implies it's probably more Creole. I am not one to pick nits. I just want it to taste good.

Tonight's dinner was brought to us by unthawed stew beef. I must keep the fridge too cold.... So, no beef stew. It really wasn't beef stew weather, anyway. Thanks to my efforts to warm the house the morning, and the sun's efforts to remind us that we live in San Antonio, the house was plenty warm, thank you. I wanted the cooking to take place outside. The only meat in the fridge that wasn't frozen or promised to another meal was some boudin sausage. It was an impulse purchase at the commissary, mainly because they actually had it and I was surprised. There were a few questionable, vague ingredients that might cause me allergy problems, but I chose to ignore them. We'll see if that turns out to be a wise decision!

So... boudin (which I've never had before and am not real sure how to cook), plus my desire to not heat up the kitchen, plus my requirement of working with ingredients already on hand... I googled a recipe. I came across this snooty-sounding one. Sounded like my best shot, but I had a few adjustments to make. I've mentioned Sidedish here before... basically potatoes, onions, and garlic in a foil pack with some sort of fat, grilled until charry. Lacking the futziness necessary to do individual parchment packets, I decided to do dinner as a Sidedish Supreme. As usual, I have no idea what to call this.

Cajun Sausage Grill Packets ??

Start with one big ol' piece of heavy duty foil. Bigger than you think you'll need.

To one side of it add:

1-2 onions, in 1/4-inch slices
3-4 garlic cloves, smashed, chunked, depends on size
However many little red potatoes you need, cut in fourths
1-2 T olive oil, drizzled over all
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp Emeril's Essence (make your own, he gives the recipe)
about a pound of boudin sausage, cut into 3-inch (or so) sections

Seal the foil up really well, grill 15 minutes on one side (start with onion side down, sausage side up), flip and grill 10 more minutes. The Grill Master says to use "high" on a gas grill, and to put it on as soon as you light the charcoal, if using that... 20 min first side, 12 the other.
Dinner is served. We had salad, too. With an awesome lemon-garlic vinaigrette. Gotta have some veggies!

Baking Day

It has been chilly here, finally, but warm enough in the afternoons that I can't justify turning the heater on. We wake up to a co-o-o-old house. I figured the best way to warm things up would be to bake. Yeah, that was my only motivation.

First, I made gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) pumpkin pie. Well, I suppose "pie" should be in quotes, because it had no crust. Perhaps it was a pumpkin custard? It's really yummy, anyway, and if I make it for a special occasion, I'll probably work out some sort of crust. I don't miss crust all that much, though.

This is the recipe that I used:

GFCF Pumpkin Pie


1 can pumpkin
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves (didn't bother hunting around for this, I know I have some, though)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 eggs

Mix the pumpkin and spices together. Add the remaining ingredients and stir slowly until just mixed. Pour the mixture into the pie pan. Bake at 425 for 15 min, then reduce to 350 and bake for another 30-40 min. Allow pie to cool before serving.

Then I made the muffins in the photo.

GFCF Carrot Muffins
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
2 cups grated raw carrot (about 2-3 peeled carrots)
1 large apple, peeled and grated (I used 1/2 cup applesauce)
2 cups GFCF flour (mine was a Bob's Red Mill bean-based one... need to use it up)
1/2 cup Rapadura, ground fine if it's pretty clumpy
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup shredded coconut
4 large eggs
3/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Place fluted paper liners in 18 muffin cups.
Toast the pecans or walnuts for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool and then chop coarsely.
Peel and finely grate the carrots and apple. Set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon. Stir in the nuts and coconut. Set aside.
In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, oil, and vanilla. Fold the wet ingredients, along with the grated carrot and apple, into the flour mixture, stirring just until moistened. Evenly divide the batter between the prepared muffin cups and bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. After about 10 minutes remove the muffins from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
Makes 18 standard-sized muffins.


I made up another recipe. I think it's vaguely French. I like to imagine that Julia Child whispers in my ear. Maybe I should take something for that? Nah...

Anyway, I decided it was French because it had mayonnaise and vermouth. It was definitely delicious. Rather hard to go wrong with wild Alaskan salmon.

So... you slice an onion thin, chop a couple of large cloves of garlic, and sauté in bacon fat (of course!) until pretty darn soft. Just don't burn the garlic.
Plop your salmon fillets in a pan, skin down. Pour a bit of vermouth around them. 1/4 cup, or so. In a small bowl, stir up two heaping spoonfuls of mayonnaise, a squirt of fresh lemon juice, grated rind from half a lemon, salt, and white pepper. Spread that on top of the salmon, then top with sautéed onions and garlic. Bake, covered, at 375 for 15-20 minutes, removing cover for the last 5. If I had a decent broiler, I'd broil for a minute or two, to brown up the onions.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Use Your Noodle Tuna Skillet

Today's lunch was named by my daughter. She asked what I was eating (she had plain noodles with olive oil and Parmesan) and I said I didn't know. I made up the recipe, so I wasn't sure what to call it. She asked if it had fish in it. "Yeah, it has tuna." She declared it was Use Your Noodle Tuna Casserole. Well... it's not a casserole, it's all done in a skillet, so...

I did use my noodle on this one. I looked up recipes, didn't have all the ingredients for any of them, but got some ideas. I absolutely devoured it, as did the hubby, so it seems to have worked out

First off, start a big pot of salted water boiling, for the spaghetti (or the spaghetti-style rice pasta.) Then you can get busy with the rest. The "rest" doesn't take very long, so don't bother getting started on it until the pasta is in the water. Unless, of course, you're using that delightful spaghetti rigati from Barilla. That only needs 5 minutes, which isn't enough.

So, here's the rest:
1-2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp bacon fat (I'd normally use more, but I'm running low)
1 tsp minced garlic (or more... once again, I'm running low)
about 1/2 cup? frozen pearl onions- I counted and I had 18 of them. I didn't measure.
1 T anchovy paste (or a couple anchovies, I didn't want to open a can)
2 shakes red pepper flakes
1/8 cup (or so) dry vermouth
1/4 cup (or so) chicken stock
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp dried basil
6 oz can of tuna

Sauté the onions and garlic over medium heat. After a couple of minutes, add the anchovy paste and stir it around until it starts to dissolve a bit. Add the red pepper flakes. When the garlic looks done (and definitely before it burns), add the vermouth. Let that reduce down a bit, then add the chicken stock, salt, and freshly-ground white pepper. Simmer away over medium-low heat. When the pasta has just a couple of minutes left, add the basil and tuna, making sure to break up any really big pieces of tuna. When the pasta is done and drained, and it to the skillet and stir around, so that all the noodles can suck up the sauce. Heat for a minute or two, then serve.

When I was gobbling mine down, I had two thoughts beyond "yummmmmm."

1) "This really needs some cream." *sniffle*

2) "Another way to do this would be to use green onions instead of pearl, add a bit of almond butter (or peanut, if you like it and it likes you), and some sesame oil at the end." That would taste Asian-ish.

Definitely very yummy.

Before I go... last night's dinner. It was supposed to be Nachos Grande or something like that,
using leftover chili. I didn't get to the store for avocados, and without cheese or beans, my nachos weren't going to be very "grande." So, instead I did a chili salad. Seriously. Like taco salad, but... um... wetter.

I think my daughter would have named this Monster Salad, because it looks like it has a face.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sunday Coupon Rant

First, a quick catch-up, since I've lagged in posting.

Friday night's dinner was tacos. This was the best picture I could get:

They were nummy. We used organic blue corn shells, which didn't stay as crisp (despite crisping up in the toaster oven), but were actually easier to eat, thanks to that. They didn't break with every bite.

Oh, did I forget to mention? I can have corn now!! Well, maybe. Not too much. Just every few days. And no corn syrup.

Then, the Gluten Eaters got to have this with dinner (chili) last night:
Crispy, goeey, lovely quesadillas. I hate them. The Gluten Eaters, not the quesadillas.

Ok, now that I've gotten you caught up, it's time to welcome you into a lovely family tradition. My Sunday Morning Coupon Rant. It's simple, really, and the hubby says it's entertaining. I calmly flip through the coupons in the paper, in case there's somehow actually one I can use, and then explode with screaming when I come across Really Stupid new products.
What's not to love?
I'll start with one that almost snuck by me... Shake and Pour Bisquick. (Not a very good link, but I wanted to give you something.) "Just add water." And shake. Because STIRRING was too hard?!?! Because it's GOOD to waste extra packaging that we all KNOW won't be recycled just so people can don't have to dirty a bowl? Because real pancakes are, of course, way too hard. Flour, baking powder, and eggs are luxury items.
How proud folks must feel... special occasions are so much easier now. "Look! Mommy COOKED!"
What's next? Microwave pancakes? So we don't have to dirty a griddle?? Whoops... yes... apparently they've already got them.
Y'all can't imagine how big I am scowling and rolling my eyes.
Does anyone know how to cook anymore? I don't mean the stupid ego-puffing, soul-demeaning, gut-busting, nutrientless meal-in-a-box insta-crockpot CRAP that masquerades as cooking. I mean COOKING. Not assembling. Making a meal from food.
I hope I anger people. I hope I get on someone's nerves by saying this. Because it needs to be said. If all you have to do is add water and stick it in the microwave YOU ARE NOT COOKING. It is NOT FOOD. Admit that. If you're ok with that, with eating that way and feeding your family that way, fine. Your choice. But at least call it what it is. It is NOT cooking.
Next on my list of stupid things is Wanchai Ferry dinner kits. Mainly because the ad was dumb.
"Amazing Chinese. Created by You." Dude, it's a kit. You're assembling dinner, not creating it. Your participation is once again limited to cutting the chicken (I am impressed that they think people still know how to do that), and warming the ingredients. That's not "creating."
I dunno... that's a bit of stretch to gripe about, but I'm already in a bad mood this morning, so I'm griping about everything.
My last one is a bit lame, too, but I'm going to do it anyway. Glade Air Infusions... let me begin by saying I hate air sprays. If your house smells that bad, DO something about it. Seriously. Maybe I'm just sensitive because I'm allergic to a lot of inhalants, but... really. Do sickly-sweet flowers really blend well with the smell of poop? Because I know that's where a lot of folks use these sorts of things- in the bathroom. You poop, you flush, you spray fake flowers. Why not just turn on the vent? (Or change your food so your poop smells better...)
And, when I'm feeling particularly conspiracy-minded, it's easy to convince me that these ubiquitous air sprays have Stuff in them that make people dumb. Stuff that makes them believe that adding water = cooking.
But, what caught my attention this morning was the top corner of the coupon ad. "Look for NEW Vanilla Mint Creme (fragrance) during the holiday season!" Vanilla Mint Creme is now the official smell of the holidays? Since when? Was there a symposium? I thought the government-sanctioned, advertiser-agreed Official Smell of the Holidays was cinnamon bun. Or pumpkin pie. Crap... maybe they've been changing it and didn't tell me. I need to know what to smell like!! Please, agree and tell me!!! AAaaaaaaaaack!
I need an emoticon here. Do blogs get emoticons?
Ooooh, wait, we have a last-minute entry! Ronzoni Smart Taste Pasta. Even google was surprised by the dumb name and had other suggestions for me. No, it really is named Smart Taste. The picture is a a mom, I suppose, dressed horribly (she didn't eat the pasta, I guess), trying to kiss some pasta that apparently just graduated. She's got her eyes closed, though, so it's a rather passionate kiss for a mama to be giving her kid.
Anyway... Smart Taste pasta. It has lots of fiber and some calcium... that's why it's smart. What does smart taste like, y'all? I guess I don't know. I think they really missed the boat on this one. If you're going to be following empty food trends, you really need to focus in on what consumers want most. If you're going to give it a name like "Smart" you need omega-3s. They are all the rage these days, and are actually somehow related to being smart.
So, that's it. That's my rant. Now I'm going to go COOK some breakfast. No water added, and the microwave (that I'm ashamed to admit I own) won't be involved. As usual.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Filé Gumbo

"Son of a gun, we're gonna have big fun on the bayou!"

There are two songs I absolutely have to hear any time I'm making Cajun food. "Jambalaya" by Hank Sr and "Down at the Twist and Shout" by Mary Chapin Carpenter. The first one became even more important recently, when I finally acquired a little bitty jar of filé.

I've been singin' about filé gumbo for a couple of weeks now. I made some tonight. Yay!

My first challenge was figuring out how to make roux. Most gluten-free recipes I found just opted to forget that part and make gumbo soup. I was resigned to this possibility when someone on my GFCFNN (gluten-free, casein-free Native Nutrition) Yahoo group told me I could make roux with sweet rice flour. Which I just happened to actually have. Then I found a wonderful, delightful site with specific instructions from a genuine Cajun. (Her site is the top one to the left- Everything Free- well worth your time even if you can eat everything.)

My roux. Some lard, some rice flour... cook, stir constantly... it was a bit darker than this, but not much. Most Cajuns would not call this roux. But at this point it smelled much darker, on the edge of burning, which I had been warned it would do a lot faster than wheat flour. So, I called it done.
I sautéed the trinity in bacon fat (of course) and then stirred it into the roux...

At this point it did not look promising. It looked like glop. I did not want to eat glop.
But, I pressed on.
I added some thyme, filé, salt, pepper, and Tabasco, stirred that up, added some chicken broth and smooshed up canned tomatoes. I had sautéed the sliced sausage already, just to give it a nice crusty, caramelly goodness, so I plopped it with everything else. After it had simmered (and to my surprise thickened) it was time for the shrimp. The beautiful, ginormous, wild-caught shrimp. Mmmmmm...
Then it went on rice. Yummo!

Soup and Salad

Yesterday's lunch. Yummy, and surprisingly, I wasn't hungry 5 minutes later. Maybe it's because I'm a Taurus, or perhaps it's due to being at least half Hobbitt, but I'm generally not convinced that soup and salad can, by themselves, comprise a meal. I grew up in meat-and-potatoes land. I think there's magic in homemade balsamic vinaigrette, though. Especially when it's accidentally too tart. It slams into the tastebuds so hard that your brain says "Ok, that's it, we're full!"

The soup was Potato and Leftovers Soup. Classy. But delicious. I won't bother calling it a "recipe", but the basic idea was: onions and celery in bacon fat until getting soft, some garlic and fresh-ground pepper, some chicken broth. Then a diced Russett potato and a small-chopped parsnip, simmered until soft. I put most of that in the blender, then back in the pot with some leftover steamed veggies and chopped chicken. Voila. Lunch.

Dinner last night was FIC: Fabulous Italian Creation. The nickname stuck a few years ago when I was planning the menu and didn't care specifically what would be served. The base ingredients were all the same. It's always pasta (rice pasta these days), with meat, marinara, sometimes a veggie, used to use lots of cheese, maybe pepperoni, mushrooms, and/or olives... pop it in the oven to meld together. Pretty fabulous.

Well... it was a lot more fabulous with cheese. But, it's still pretty good. Pretty Good Italian Creation doesn't have the same ring to it, though.
The greens there are mustard greens. I will never make mustard greens again as long as I live.
I love kale and collards and excel (if I may say so) in their preparation. I somehow went very, very wrong with the mustard greens. I didn't even finish them.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Lemony Snicket

I have no idea what to call this. I made up the recipe by combining two... Salmon with Lemongrass and Coconut Sauce and Thai Fish Curry, which was already my adaptation of someone else's recipe. The salmon recipe comes from one of my favorite books ever- Full Moon Feast by Jessica Prentice. It's fabulous- both the recipe and the book. I can't have soy sauce, but I love Asian food, so... I'm beginning to get a bit weird.
So, um... it was tasty. Not sure these flavors really belong together. I probably have the wrath of several small, impoverished Asian states aimed at me for slaughtering their cuisine... or perhaps for combining their cuisine with that of their mortal enemy.

So... my weirdness...

Thai Lemony Fish Curry (yeah... that's it)

1/2 can coconut milk
1 lemon
1 stalk lemongrass
1 teaspoon arrowroot powder
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 servings of firm fish (mine was already in chunks)
2 tablespoons coconut oil, or combination of coconut and palm oil
about 1 tsp mild curry powder (to taste)
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
green beans or peas... optional
salt to taste

1. Pour the coconut milk into a wide-bottomed, shallow saucepan (with lid).
2. Cut the remaining zest off in big pieces with a vegetable peeler or paring knife.
3. Cut the lemongrass in 4- to 5-inch lengths (soak first, if using dried), then split these in half.
4. Add the big pieces of lemon zest and the lemongrass to the coconut milk and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer, covered, over low heat for 7 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, juice the lemon and dissolve the arrowroot completely in the lemon juice. In a separate pan (sorry... too many dirty dishes) heat oil. Add sliced onion and saute just a few minutes- leave it a little crisp. Add curry powder and cook an additional minute. Remove from heat.
6. Add the fish sauce to the coconut milk and simmer another 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the lemon peel and lemongrass from the coconut milk.
7. Rinse and pat dry the fish fillets (or bits), then place them gently in the simmering sauce. Plop onion mixture on top of fish, and add green beans, if using. Replace cover and cook until done, 5-10 minutes. If using peas instead, add them the last two minutes.
8. Transfer the fish to plates. (Part of the original instructions, proved impossible with fish bits and veggies... so, I ignored it.)
9. Whisk (stir, if pan still full of fish) the lemon juice-arrowroot mixture into the coconut milk. It should thicken immediately. Turn off the heat. Taste the sauce and add salt, if needed. Sprinkle strands of zest on top and serve immediately. I put mine over rice.

It was powerfully lemony, light on the curry... still needs some adjustments, I think.

Monday, October 15, 2007

I Love Coleslaw!

Love. Love love love love love. Well, I love this coleslaw... adapted from Julia Child's book, seen above. I just use the dressing part of the recipe, so far, as the rest involves a lot of chopping. And I like to have cole slaw on nights that hubby grills... so I want my entire involvement over quick. That way it feels more like a night off.

My Version of Saint Julia's Coleslaw

1 Tbs Dijon-type (her words, my emphasis) mustard
2 Tbs raw apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp coarse grey salt (never trust a white salt!)
1/2 tsp Rapadura sugar
1/4 tsp cumin, ground
1/4 tsp celery salt (or celery seed, if you've got it)
several grinds of fresh pepper
1/3-1/2 cup mayonnaise (no Miracle Whip or I will hunt you down and hurt you)
... drum roll please... the secret ingredient to coleslaw nirvana... 1 tsp liquidy bacon fat

Heh heh heh

Mix that all together in a big bowl. Add about half a bag of finely-shredded coleslaw cabbage (the tri-color tastes best, if you can get it, dressing tastes good on broccoli slaw, too, but you'll have a very wet coleslaw). Stir. Once that first bit is good and wet, add about half of what's left. Stir. Add the rest. Stir.

Eat. Or serve, if you're feeling futzy.

I usually have about half of this left by the time the rest of dinner is ready. It's sooooooo good.

The rest of dinner tonight:

To the right, the wonderful, crunchy, salty, charry goodness that is grilled asparagus. Tonight the hubby got the idea (gee, wonder where from?) to toss it with bacon fat prior to grilling, instead of olive oil.
He also salted it, and was a tad concerned that it would be too salty. Ha! I have two taste buds at the moment- sour and salty. Oh... three... and beefy.
So, to round out the meal, lightly-warmed grass-fed steaks. I think the packages said "t-bone," but they must have been from the end of that primal. Still positively yummy.


This is completely not food related. But I could include some pictures of tasty-looking things, just for kicks.
Here's a lovely cake, for example. Mmmm... cake....

And, some sort of sandwich... sliced apples in there, I think.

Anyway, moving on...
We live in a weird house. That really shouldn't be worthy of comment, because we are weird people and purposefully choose houses that have "character." But this one... sheesh. Ok, we'll back up a bit for some history first.

We are renters. Some day we'd love to buy, but as Army nomads, it just hasn't been practical. A few houses ago, in South Carolina, we almost bought. We thought we'd be staying. Thought hubby would be getting out of the Army, too. He wasn't sure what he wanted to be when he grew up, though, and when re-enlistment time came, Bush had made sure the job market was in the shitter, to ease hubby's decision. He re-enlisted and we moved.
But that house loved us. It breathed an audible sigh of relief when we moved in... knowing it finally had someone who cared. It had obviously been loved for a long time, and remembered what that was like, but then had become a rental house. Houses don't like being rentals. That house had the remnants of extensive gardens, thoughtful details, dark wood embellishments... the sorts of things that never survive renters. The house wanted us so much that we almost succumbed.

On we went, though. To an old house in a non-existant town in Kansas. It was big in all the wrong places and had a tiny kitchen, but we had the idea of buying in our heads... and were tempted once again. Instead we moved on post. That was a good house. Small, but safe. The yard and neighborhood were the best things there.

And now... our weirdest house yet. The house itself has been a rental for so long that it doesn't have a soul left. Like a very old tree, it has gone to sleep. We have no plans to wake it up. But there are so many strange little things. We've found 3 broken cell phones and a fork in the backyard. I can only imagine what treasures we could find if we scraped the top 3 inches of yard away. Then there's the dead bees that keep popping up in the washing machine. Do I want to know how they get in there? The birds in the chimney were, apparently, a rather common problem here. But the lights in the house are strange. Despite having electricians sent out, the ceiling fans don't work, the lights flicker, and a couple only turn on if the switch is "just so." Bulbs burn out very quickly, too.

And finally... well, I hope it's finally... we've only been here two months... the dishwasher. I don't like the dishwasher, and he doesn't like me. That's right, "he." I've named him Herschel (we end up naming all our appliances.) Herschel does a pretty good job, despite his age and small size, but absolutely refuses to wash anything that had a pork product on it. The other dishes in the load will get clean. But not those that held pork. Not even the forks or spoons. It's not just a grease issue, either, as hamburger grease, butter, chicken fat, and coconut oil all come clean.

He just won't touch pork.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Grilled Fajita Salad

Tonight I had a Good Idea. Fajitas. We had a really big piece of meat still left over from the gigantic piece of meat from Thai Lemon Beef night. It needed to be used. Wouldn't want it to go bad and be wasted... that sort of thing makes me sad. And of course it needs to be grilled. It was just That Sort of meat. I probably should have marinated it properly, to tenderize it, but... I didn't. So, fajitas were the obvious choice- I could have mine in a romaine lettuce leaf instead of a tortilla. My year of low-carbing taught me some tricks.

Anyway, fajitas need onions (peppers are good, too, but I didn't have any.) Grilled onions, of course. Hubby (the Grill Master) told me to slice them up and toss them in a bowl with some olive oil. That's when I got my Good Idea. Bacon fat. I tossed the onions with bacon fat. Added a touch of salt, and handed them out to the hubby.

Soon after that, he came in to tell me "You have to smell this. Onions, in bacon fat, on the grill."

I stopped my chopping. "Yes. Yes, I do."

I love the smell of onions in bacon fat. I love the smell of grill. Together they are... phenomenal. Mmmm... I am a genius.

Then it was time for me to make the "sauce." Since I hadn't marinated the meat, I wanted some way to get the same flavors involved. I googled up some inspiration, and decided to base mine on this one. This is what I did, pretty much, since I didn't actually measure:

1/4 cup olive oil
juice of half a juicy lime, divided (I used almost the whole lime, which was too tart)
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp salt
some freshly-ground pepper
2 tsp jarred minced garlic
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
2 tsp arrowroot powder (optional)

Put about half the lime juice in a small bowl with the arrowroot powder, set aside.

Mix the other ingredients together in a small sauce pan. Warm gently over low heat, while the fajita stuff cooks. When everything else is ready, whisk the lime juice-arrowroot mixture and add to sauce pan. Remove from heat and whisk! It thickens up quickly. If you don't want a thick sauce/dressing, don't bother with the arrowroot. I wanted it to cling to the meat well.

I think next time I'll skip the arrowroot and the heating, and toss the stuff in the blender with the grilled onions.

When it came time to separate out the good romaine leaves for being my "tortillas," I got another good idea. Skip the whole messy thing of stuffing into a lettuce leaf, and just make a salad. So, I chopped up the lettuce (getting a lot more veggie this way), and topped it with the sliced, grilled steak, some sliced avocado, grilled onions, and the sauce- now the dressing.

It was sooooooo yummy.
Hours later update... I felt so good all evening after eating this! I didn't get hungry for a snack like I usually do. Someone suggested I crunch the numbers on the meal, to see what ratio of fats, proteins, and carbs it had. To the best of my guess (didn't weigh the steak, the website I used was really opinionated on serving sizes), it was 71% fat, 21% protein, and 8% carbs. Sheesh! I knew I liked fat, but... that number is high even for me. I told hubby I was sure to be hungry in 10 minutes, because I didn't have enough carbs. Silly me. Looks like my bod likes not having carbs.

Magic Bacon

My daily astrology email told me to take it easy this morning... and indulge... not try anything strenuous until the Moon was no longer Void and moved into Sagittarius. So I did. When the Cosmos speaks, I listen. Well, when it says something I like, anyway.

I made everything-free French toast and bacon. I used my ol' standby Almond Rice bread, dipping it in a custard of egg and coconut mik, with vanilla and cinnamon. Topped off with maple syrup and shredded coconut. It looked better than it tasted. Damn Cosmos.
I couldn't get a picture of the bacon, because it disappeared. I cooked an entire pound and got two slices, eaten while still scorching hot. The rest went into my hubby and 2-year-old. Mostly into the 2-year-old. He really likes bacon.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Um, I have a confession...

I bought and ate rice cakes.

Anyone who knows me will think the real Bekki was abducted by aliens.

But it's true. I, Bekki Blahblah, being in sound mind (somewhat), did on this very day, around noon, place in my cart with the intention to purchase one bag of Lundberg Farms brown rice cakes. I then proceeded to the check-out (after piling other items in as well) and did authorize the transfer of funds from my bank to theirs, so that I could take all the items home.
I have rice cakes in my kitchen.

I ate two for dinner. Well, not FOR dinner... with dinner. Basically as an edible plate. Tasted a bit better than stoneware, I'm guessing. I've never eaten stoneware. But... after the events of the day, I won't rule it out entirely.

What led me to take such drastic action? The ingredient list. Rice, salt. That's all. No preservatives, no funky "ose" things that I have to remember what they're derived from... rice and salt. I can eat that. And they're much cheaper than the everything-free toast that I have for breakfast, and would feel guilty about eating too much of.

So, tonight's dinner:

That's it. No, I swear I am not on a diet. I put it on a wild plate, to make it look better... and all that green looks kind of like vegetables.
I'm in a bit of a vegetable rut, as I suddenly can't have green beans. Didn't realize how often I ate green beans before... but I guess they were my crutch veggie. I love broccoli and cauliflower, but being brassicas (I think, cabbage family anyway), they can suppress the thyroid a bit if eaten too much. So, I try to keep them to just twice a week... and I don't know what else to make. I like to just pop something in the steamer pan while I give my full attention to the other parts of dinner.
Today was a major football day, (with Kentucky BEATING #1 LSU!!!! in triple overtime) so I planned a simple dinner. Tuna salad. On salad. Then I didn't feel like salad. So... I, um... had rice cakes. The tuna salad was just a can of tuna (hunted down at the health food store, so as to not have weird ingredients), some mayo and dijon mustard, white pepper, dill, and cayenne.
Lunch was really good, so I feel like I can get by with a bad dinner. I was starving, though, so didn't remember to take pictures. It was Spicy Apricot Chicken, rice, and... um... green beans. For the last time. A goodbye to beans, I suppose.

Spicy Apricot Chicken, my personal adaptation

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 Tblspn apricot preserves
several splashes Tabasco sauce (to your heat preference)
3 Tblspns chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup chicken broth

Place the chicken thighs in a casserole or small baking dish, skin side up. Put next 5 ingredients in a small bowl, stir together. Pour broth over chicken, then baste or smear the other ingredients on top of the chicken. Cover and bake for 45-60 minutes at 375 degrees, removing lid for last 10-15 minutes. (Makes the glaze get nice and brown.)

This was dinner last night:

Ok, I was nice and didn't eat those all by myself. I just had to share the pic of the mountain of grilled hamburgers. Such a lovely sight.
I only ate one, despite being constantly hungry these days. We also had Sidedish, which is our official thing to have with most grilled meat. The basic elements are potatoes, garlic, and onions, with olive oil or butter, and salt. Wrap that up in heavy duty foil and cook while the grill heats up for the main course. Other delightful add-ins include mushrooms, peppers, and squash.
The charred bits are the best.

So, this was actually dinner:

Both pickles and sauerkraut was probably overkill, but I have the tendency to eat anything I can eat, whether or not I actually want it. Must be one of the stages of food allergies, like the stages of grief.

And, that would explain why I bought rice cakes.

By the way, I didn't actually post this until Saturday, the date says Friday (making me a football psychic) because I opened the window to type my post on Friday night, and then didn't get to it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thai Lemon Beef

My favorite meal in the entire world is Thai Lemon Beef. I'm sure it's not an authentic Thai recipe. I got it from the Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook... so that's my first clue. But, it's delicious. It's my ultimate comfort food. It incorporates all that I hold dear- spicy, sour, beefy, crunchy (veggies), and creamy-textured noodles.

Uh-oh. Noodles. We'll get back to that.

I tweaked the recipe, of course, so I feel fine about posting it without infringing on any copyrights. The first time I made it, way back when I was first learning (finally) to cook, I followed the recipe precisely. The original calls for 1-3(!) teaspoons of red pepper flakes. Heh. I compromised with 2. Hubby and I dug in to our dinner, tantalized by the aromas. It was delicious! It was tangy! It was HOT! The recipe supposedly makes 4 servings, but we'd pretty much heaped the entire creation onto our two plates. We barely spoke as we ate. Our tongues were melting. We had sweat running down our faces from the spice. Every few minutes, we'd break the silence by gasping about how tasty it was. And it was. But... it hurt. I made a note in the cookbook to not use more than 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Over time I've reduced even that amount, as we have observed the mystical Thai Lemon Beef Effect. This is the unexplainable way that the dish will sometimes convert one lone pepper flake into molten dragon-breath heat, while at other times half a teaspoon (of the same bottle of flakes) yields a mild result.
So, I can't have my beloved noodles. And I've tried a few kinds of other noodles- rice sticks, cellophane- they all suck. But I really wanted to have my favorite meal again... I could just eat it as is, not on top of anything. But that doesn't make good use of the sauce. Serving it over rice, while suggested by the original recipe, is somehow wrong. Then I got the idea of bok choy... at least it's Asian, right?

Thai Lemon Beef


1/2 cup soy sauce/tamari
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce (I omitted, due to corn syrup)
1/2 cup water
1/8 cup or so rice vinegar
juice of 1 lemon (if not all that juicy, add some lime if you've got it)
8 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp from a jar)
NOT MORE THAN 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or if you're wimpy, just place the jar near the sauce
1 pound top round steak (or whatever you like to stir-fry)
1-3 tablespoons coconut oil (please don't cook with unstable vegetable oils!)
1 bunch green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 carrots, scraped and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder (or cornstarch), less for a thinner sauce
1 head/bunch/whatever bok choy OR 1-2 packages chuka soba noodles
some sesame oil
  1. Combine first 7 ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Cut steak across the grain into thin strips, place in same bowl, stir to coat well. (pic at right) Place in fridge for 30 minutes, minimum.
  3. Start boiling a large bowl of water, if doing noodles. Start slicing bok choy (as above) if not.
  4. Cut up onions and carrots, set aside.
  5. Drain steak, saving marinade (because I'm evil and use it for the sauce, even though there could be contamination... I bring it to a boil and call it good. Germs don't like red pepper flakes, anyway, right?)
  6. Saute the bok choy, if using, however you like it. I used a couple tablespoons of coconut oil and then about 1/2 cup of chicken broth.
  7. Stir-fry steak in hot oil (really, let the pan heat up well) over medium-high heat just until browned. Do it in two batches if one would crowd your pan too much. Remove from skillet and set aside.
  8. Add green onions and carrots to pan, with more oil first, if needed. Stir-fry about 3 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Err on the side of too-crisp.
  9. Toss noodles into boiling water, if using. Set timer for 2 minutes.
  10. Stir arrowroot powder into reserved marinade, then pour into skillet with veggies. Stir quickly, add steak back in, and reduce heat.
  11. Quickly drain noodles and rinse with water.
  12. Add sesame oil to bok choy or noodles and serve.

    About the Most Delicious Noodles
Why do I love these particular noodles? What makes them so special? Well, their texture is unique, for one thing. Kinda stretchy, a touch chewy, and although made of wheat, with a very different taste from Italian-style pastas. And why this particular brand? As ashamed as I am to say it... I guess because of yellow dye #5. We recently moved and couldn't find this brand, so we bought a different one. Same type of noodle. Same ingredients, except no evil yellow #5. We all agreed... they were horrible. I wasn't previously aware that yellow #5 had a flavor, but apparently it does.
Oh, and... it would seem that even fermented soy is a problem. After my delicious beefy, coconut-oily, veggified dinner I am hungry. Ravenous. This bites. Maybe I'll "embrace the suck," like my hubby says, have some more banana bread, get dumb, and go to bed.

Me CaveWench

The banana bread tasted great. If I get a chance, I'll share the recipe, but it wasn't anything special. I used the recipe that came on the back of the bag of gluten-free flour. Said flour was a mix of rice and various bean flours. Sounds weird, but tastes good. Trouble is... (and there's always trouble, isn't there?) apparently I'm not just intolerant of soybeans, but all legumes. I always had issues with peanuts (nasty little poison pellets, anyway, no loss), and suspected soy for a long time... but ALL legumes? Is this really necessary??


This realization dinged a bell deep inside my head. I remembered something I read many years ago, and went searching the 'net to prove/disprove the accuracy of my memory. I had once entertained the idea of the Eat Right 4 Your Type diet. It seemed to fit easily, which made it more believable. I'm a Type O, which means I get to eat meat. But it also means I shouldn't have dairy, grains, legumes, or sweets. Harrumph! said the me of many years ago. Must be a load of hooey. I gave the book away...
And I still think it's probably a load of hooey.
But the guy behind that book was one of the first (in the last 50 years) to publicly decry lectins. I don't think he's got it right... but he maybe got some other people to look into it. Lectins are baaaad, see, and possibly cause all the diseases we can't figure out a cause for. They are a plant's (or animal's) natural defense against being eaten. We've evolved ways to get past animal lectins, just like birds have evolved ways to get past seed lectins. But we humans have NOT (probably... this is where I wonder about the blood type theory) evolved ways to get past the lectins in 4 groups of foods: grains, nightshades, legumes, and dairy.
This is where the Paleo Diet (I should have a link to that, where'd it go?) comes in... and why I figure I must be a cave wench. I have trouble with grains, legumes, and dairy... and we'll see about the nightshades (don't take my tomatoes!)
I did a lot of reading up on the Paleo Diet, since that's pretty much how I'm eating these days anyway. Might as well find recipes and propaganda to tell me why I'm better off. And some of it makes a lot of sense.

I didn't post yesterday, because I spent the day reading... and wavering between clarity and brain fog, as I learned that bean flour banana bread makes me really dumb.

Dinner was good, though- salmon with a strange little "sauce" that I made up, rice, and steamed green beans and carrots with sesame oil.

The "sauce" was just some leftover petite diced tomatoes (about 1/4 a can), some chopped green onion, some chopped kalamata olives, a bit of olive oil, and a generous splash of vermouth. I risked sulfites with that last one. It paid off. Once the salmon was baked, there was a good bit of saucy stuff in the pan that I poured over my rice. Yum!

Breakfast this morning was scrambled eggs and fried boozey apples. Lunch was leftover smoked pork butt, dipped in mustard (couldn't make a sandwich, now could I?), and carrot sticks with hummus. Then I got really hungry mid-afternoon and decided to have another slice of dumb bread... got dumb... finally remembered my new Antidote (black tea), and here I am... finally able to post. I guess cave women didn't eat banana bread. What a shock.

More later, after I make what I hope is a lovely dinner.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Sometimes I'm dumb

Ain't that pretty?
That's my banana bread. I get to eat that. I'm glad.
It actually rose a bit! I'm surprised by that... GF breads aren't very good at that. Maybe I'm just the GFCF baking goddess, or something. Hee hee

In other news... I made lasagna for dinner. And have since told my hubby that if I ever get the idea to make lasagna again (which I probably won't, but we'll get to that) on a day when I have done anything other than sit on my bottom, he is to intervene. He is to flatten me to the floor, if need be.
I was so tired and flustered and frustrated... I put so many bad thoughts into dinner it's no wonder I have indigestion now. I already had a mess from baking (made gluteny cookies for the kids before I made the banana bread), and I can NOT cook in a messy kitchen. Just can't do it. And as everyone surely knows, lasagna isn't quick. And I had to make two. No, I'm not masochistic... see... I had bought everything for lasagna right before I figured out I can't have gluten and dairy. It was sitting there, making me think of the wasted money... so I finally decided to make regular lasagna for hubby and freak-sagna for myself. And test my soy intolerance at the same time.

It was dumb. I won't do that again.

For one thing... too much work. For another thing... tofu-sagna is unappealing already. But if you spend 45 minutes smelling cheese melt... well... I very much almost ate the real lasagna. But I didn't. Yay me.

No, I didn't eat the good lasagna, because that would have made me sick. How so? Exhausted, moody, brain foggy, indigestion... stuff like that.
So, after eating the funky tofu-sagna, how do I feel? Exhausted, moody, brain foggy, indigestion... shit!

I'm still holding out hope that tamari (soy sauce for snobs) will be ok. Surely the fermentation process is akin to magic?

Oh, and if the banana bread tastes as good as it looks/smells, I'll share the recipe. I won't bother with the freak-sagna. You really don't want to make it.

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I can have eggs again! Hooray!

Thanks to not doing a proper elimination diet, eggs were falsely accused. I'm still being careful and not eating them every day. Sometimes that helps. They are not a food that wants to be eaten, like fruits (where a trip through the digestive tract improves the odds of the seeds getting to grow.) Eggs can be quite a powerful allergen, so I want to tread lightly. But I got to have 'em for breakfast this morning. Yum. Hard to see them there... over easy, so the yolks are hiding.

Lunch was really good, too. Hubby grilled burgers, and I made hummus. I'd heard it suggested as a dip for raw veggies. The people who suggest that are crazy. Hummus needs pita. But, carrot sticks were pretty good, too. Celery really wasn't, which is saying something, because we generally eat a lot of celery. Maybe that had more to do with the homemade bleu cheese dip?
Hmmm, surely not.

Anyhow, I also sliced a cucumber, salted it, and sprinkled it with dill. So easy, so tasty.

The hummus:
1 can garbanzo beans/chickpeas
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons minced garlic
some salt
some paprika
some sesame seeds (had no tahini)

Put in food processor (or blender, I imagine) and whiz it up until it's all blended. Add more oil, if you think it's too thick. Add some cayenne, if you like it spicy. Sprinkle parsley and paprika on top to make it pretty.

And now my GFCF, corn-free (had to make my own freakin' baking powder!?!) banana bread is almost done. I sure hope the finished product tastes better than the batter did. It was a bit... gritty.
It smells good, if that's anything.
By the way, I absolutely HATE the formatting on this blog. I have spent way too much time trying to fix it. I need a tutorial or something. The preview never matches the final result. I will stop screaming at it and just get on with my life.

I'm late, I'm late

Sheesh, the pressure of blog upkeep. I probably would have quit already, if hubby wasn't obsessively taking pictures of everything I heat up.
Last night's dinner was so good I had to go sit on the couch for a while afterward. So... I never got around to posting. I watched the Bills vs Cowboys game, which was supposed to be a lopsided beat-down. It turned out to be a crazy game with trick plays, false hope, and finally a last-minute game-winning field goal. Two last-minute game-winning field goals, actually, but only one counted.

But this isn't a blog about football. I don't eat football.

Last night's dinner: the smoked pork butt (it's so hard to figure out how to slice stuff like that), storebought oven-roasted rosemary potatoes, and steamed broccoli and green beans (the end of two bags.) Simple and delicious.

Now, for the stock. It actually came first, but... the pictures aren't as pretty. Stock/broth/whatever is so easy, I don't know what took me so long to finally make it. Now I make it a lot and feel guilty whenever I buy it from the store. Canned and boxed just can't compare. The gelatin in stock (and natural glucosamine and chondroitin, for those with achy joints) is the secret to it's magic. And the best gelatin comes from the feet (and heads, if you can get 'em.) Chicken feet don't look like good eats, but they make a much better stock.

So, you start with the bones of a chicken you've roasted, smoked, whatever. (Some people start with the whole chicken, but I don't like boiled meat, and it's the bones that give up the goodie.) Or you can save the bones from whatever chicken you eat for a while- stick them in a bag in the freezer. Also stick onion peels, carrot butts, and chopped bits of whatever veggies you go through into that bag.
When it's full, plop it in a big pot, cover with water, add a splash of vinegar, and let it sit for an hour (longer if the stuff is still frozen.) The vinegar pulls minerals out of the bones. Add a couple stalks of fresh celery, a carrot or two, a smashed garlic clove, and a parsnip, if you've got it. An onion, chopped in fourths is nice, as well.

Then, bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer... that means the water is barely moving, no constant bubbling. Simmer for a long time. Overnight. Less than two days.

If you've got some softer stuff in there, like I sometimes do, (mushroom stems, pepper tops, collard stems) take that stuff out a bit sooner.
The leftover stuff looks kinda gross, huh?

Then you can either turn the heat up a little on the chicken stock, to reduce it down, or just let it cool and be done. Almost done, anyway. Some people like to put it in the fridge and skim the fat off the next day. I am not a fat-skimmer. I do like to put it in the fridge for a day, though. Because that's how I find out if it gelled. I used to get really good "chicken jell-o," but now I don't. Same chickens, same feet, no idea why.
Now I'm out of those good pastured chickens. But not the feet- I bought extra!

Speaking of the feet... when I first managed to find some in a store I was perplexed. How many feet go into a pot of stock? My recipes don't say. They just say to use feet, if you've got 'em. I spent a good deal of time thinking about it. I mentioned it to my hubby. We puzzled.
Until finally, one day, as I was pulling my stock bag out of the freezer, the idiocy of my wonderment hit me.

How many feet go into a stock pot?
Um, duh... probably two per chicken.
Unless it was some sort of mutant chicken... or had a run-in with a fox.


I'd like to point out that this was way before I gave up gluten and dairy, so my brain didn't work very well.

Monday, October 8, 2007

No pictures

Sorry. I like to have lots of pictures. Food is pretty.
But, breakfast was glop. It wasn't pretty. It was supposed to be jook. I guess, due to the lack of pictures (see how important they are?) that I just imagined a whole different thing. I was picturing either rice pudding, or a porridge of sorts. "Porridge" connotes a liquid, needs-a-spoon type of dish to me.

My jook didn't need a spoon.

I made it in my rice cooker (and it's not a shabby one... it uses fuzzy logic or something like that) just like the recipe said. I added cinnamon, to help my digestive fire, raisins, thanks to the rice pudding vision, and dried cherries, because I've been feeling anemic for the first time ever. Then I tossed in some sliced almonds, because... why not?

Turned it on (porridge setting), left it over night, got out of bed with a bit of a bounce this morning. Breakfast was already made! It was healthy, it was hot, I was so excited. I opened the lid with my left hand, already wielding the rice paddle (spoon thingy) with my right...
I stirred it... all the almonds and cinnamon were on top, because, of course, they float.
It made icky squelchy noises.
Hmmm... I'm up at 6:30, haven't had coffee yet, and the Universe thinks I need this?
Um, ok.

I plopped some in a bowl and tasted it. And promptly added a spoonful of maple syrup. It needed more than that, but I'm not handling sugar well these days, so....

I ate it. Kudos to me. And now I have a large plastic container in the fridge with the leftovers. Great.

For Second Breakfast I had a piece of toast (from my usual everything-free bread). I made the jook so I could avoid anything processed. The best way to make sure you don't accidentally ingest an allergenic ingredient is to do away with ingredient lists completely. I had decided to be hard-core about this, and even do away with my morning toast. Well... after the glop I felt pretty icky. Cranky. Angry. Tired. After the toast I felt good. So... I don't care if it has an ingredient list. I like it.

Lunch was late... so I was once again very, very, very cranky. I should keep this in mind with the kids... stick a cracker in their mouths when they start getting whiny. Anyway, I had yet more leftover chili, but on a baked potato this time. It was surprisingly good. It's amazing what a difference a potato makes.

For dinner, my husband is smoking a pork butt. That still sounds like a joke to me. Did you know the "butt" doesn't even come from the pig's hindside? Why would they call it that? BUT (hee hee), we bought it because I couldn't find any chicken that was just chicken. Why in the world do they feel it's necessary to inject funky fluids into chicken? Just whack it's head off, pluck it's feathers, shove it in a bag, and sell it to me. Ok? Please? Oh, well. I like smoked butt.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Onions and Garlic in Bacon Fat

First, the bad news.
It's really only bad news to me, but I am allergic/sensitive to/intolerant/angry at the very existence of sulfites.

I used to have rather strong opinions about people who complained that they couldn't drink red wine, because of the sulfites. "What kind of weanie can't handle an inocuous food additive?"

This kind of weanie.
Maybe it's just temporary, that's my mantra. From what I've read, it often is a build-up sort of thing. I've been using a LOT of canned coconut milk and cream recently, and it all had sodium metabisulfate. This whole allergy/sensitivity/intolerance THING that exploded in the last few weeks is teaching me more than I ever wanted to know. Thanks for the learning opportunity, oh wondrous Universe.

So, from Second Breakfast on through about 4:30, I was in a funk and a fog. Lunch was leftover chili. Dinner was supposed to be lasagna... with tofu instead of ricotta for me. But I was in no condition to be testing the possible soy allergy, so... it was changed to some sort of pasta. I didn't want a meat sauce, as that would too-closely resemble the chili that was still giving me heartburn. Hubby saved the day with the suggestion of the remaining bacon... and it all came together. That's the good news. Even in a world tipped on it's side, (as ours most certainly must be if I cannot have cream in my coffee) there is still the glory of onions and garlic in bacon fat.

That's how the "sauce" began. Then I plunked in about 3/4 a can of petite diced tomatoes, some chicken broth (would have used white wine, but didn't have any sans sulfites, grrrrr), and let that simmer while the brown rice pasta cooked.

By the way... if for any reason you venture into the realm of alternative pastas, do not bother with anything but Tinkyada for rice pastas. And even their penne and linguini fall flat. I have actually met Mr. Lundberg of Lundberg Farms (rices and pastas). He is a charming, generous, sincere man. He farmed ecologically before it was cool. But his rice pasta sucks.
Oh, and no, I don't leave my pasta sticking up over the water like that. I just thought it was pretty for the picture. Behind that is the chicken stock that I'll probably talk about tomorrow.

So... things are simmering... dinner needs a vegetable, so I sauteed some green beans in bacon fat. With a bit of grey salt they are just divine. Tossed the pasta in the sauce, topped with sliced kalamatas and the cooked bacon... dinner is done. And delicious.

Playing ketchup

Bad food pun. Sorry. It's early yet.

Lunch yesterday stank. I didn't bother taking pictures. Dinner was chili, which was very nummy, but I didn't post anything because I was too busy watching LSU vs FL. Good game. I didn't really have a rooting interest, but it was great anyway.

So, here I am, stirring the grassfed ground-beef, browning it with onions in bacon fat. Mmmmm... bacon fat!

My husband took a picture of the stirring because the beef was really pretty... but... not being a professional food photographer...

Well, I'll tell you, it was browning really dark and caramel-y. You'll just have to take my word for it.
And, I had to use bacon fat. Grassfed beef is much leaner than feedlot beef. And because nothing in the world (except grill smoke) smells better than onions cooking in bacon fat. Well, maybe onions and garlic in bacon fat.

So, here is the almost-finished result. The chili in the crockpot.

It's only somewhat homemade, as so much comes out of a can. But, I just don't make my own tomato products. Nor have I successfully cooked a pot of beans. My beans always come out mushy. All two times I've tried.

So, the recipe:

2 lbs ground chuck
2 onions, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
large handful mushrooms, sliced

Saute all that (where's the little mark to put over the "e"?) in the fat of your choice and toss in slow cooker. I suggest starting with the onions, moving on to the mushrooms, then the beef, and briefly the garlic.

Directly to the slow cooker add:

2 cans RoTel diced tomatoes with chiles
1 can plain tomato sauce (full-size can)
1 can black beans
2 T chili powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cilantro

It's a really flexible recipe. I've never had it taste bad, if you have no tomato sauce, add some tomato paste and a bit of broth or water. No RoTel? Regular diced and some extra spice. Leftover roast beef (or pork) instead of ground beef? Go for it.

Then just let it cook for a nice long while. Watch some football. It tastes great with shredded cheese, sour cream, corn chips, cornbread, actual corn... none of which I can have. It tastes pretty good all by itself, too.

Oh... First Breakfast today was pretty much the same as yesterday, thus no pictures.

About Me

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Tejas, United States
I am many things... all at the same time. (No wonder I don't get much done!) I am a wife to a retired infantryman, mother of 3, stocker (and stalker) of the fridge, passionate fan of food, nutrition, ecology, coffee, wine, and college football. I love all things witchy and piratey. I often cook with booze. I feed stray cats. I don't believe in sunscreen. I don't like shoes and really hate socks. And I currently can't eat any gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, coconut(!?), or sodium metabisulfite (aw, shucks, no chemical snackies.) Sometimes even citric acid gets me. But only sometimes.