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.

Monday, December 29, 2008

More raw fish!


Not sure why, but I seem to enjoy repeating themes.

The sushi the other night was faboo... so I immediately put ceviche on the menu. I buy our fish from Vital Choice whenever I can, so it is all good quality and worthy of eating raw. Ceviche gives it a cooked texture, but really it is still raw, and therefore still full of all it's goodies... enzymes, delicate vitamins, probably flavanoids and such. Good stuff.

Plus it's easy.

I realize it's not quite ceviche weather where most of y'all are... but today was sunny and fairly warm, so I wanted something summery.

This time I used a recipe from Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday. I absolutely LOVE this book, by the way (please notice I did not call it a cookbook, because although it clearly is such, it's the other stuff in it that I love with a passion. Someday I hope to meet Rick in person and thank him for being so cool.) This recipe was Ceviche Salad with Avocado, Cilantro, and Green Chile. Please notice that I said "was." Because, I am who I am, and I am psychopathically incapable of following a recipe. :-)

First of all, I used an unapproved fish. Halibut. Vital Choice has a pretty good deal on random bits of halibut, which if you sift through and cut up the bigger bits, work really well for stir fries or ceviche. Next, I used more garlic than he calls for, and honestly didn't even notice it in the final product. I also didn't have a ripe avocado available... 2 hours in a paper bag with a banana just wasn't enough for the softest rock the grocery had available. I really missed the avocado. And finally, I had the Grill Geek do up some bacon-greased sliced onions and bell pepper, as well as add a bit of char to a stack of corn tortillas. We ate our ceviche like fish tacos.

Bekki's Nummalicious Easy Ceviche

1 cup fresh lime juice (oops, another change... I used lemon, orange, and lime)
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 loose cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1 fresh jalapeno, stemmed and roughly chopped
2 generous pinches of salt
About 1 pound high-quality, sushi-grade fish: salmon, tuna, snapper (or halibut!)

Suggested:
1 ripe avocado, cubed
1 large head Boston, Bibb, or Romaine lettuce, chopped
1 sliced onion, grilled
1 sliced red bell pepper, grilled
1 or 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
Grilled corn tortillas

Use a blender or food processor to whiz up the juice, garlic, cilantro, jalapeno, and salt until smooth. Pour over the fish (in bite-size pieces), in a non-metal bowl, and refrigerate for 1-4 hours.
Pour off the marinade, and save for ceviching something else!
Toss the lettuce with a bit of rice vinegar and olive oil, and salt to taste.

Stuff corn tortillas with all the goodies and make lots of happy noises while eating.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Sushi


Again.

I guess we like it. :-)

Tonight's sushi was for our seventh wedding anniversary. Seven years. Wow.

Our first anniversary was celebrated at a Joe's Crab Shack in Lexington, Kentucky. Our second, third, and fourth (I think) were at a restaurant called Thai Lotus, which also offered sushi. We honestly can't recall how we spent our fifth or sixth... there was a lot going on those years. But this year we ate fabulous food and spent the evening chatting out in our gazebo in the warm, humid air.

The food was all fabulous, too. Even the salad... which was our nod to the old Iron Chef, for it's apparent oddness. It really was quite tasty.

Sea Garden Squid Appetizer Salad A small serving of mixed seaweed and Squid prepared with sesame oil

Salmon Musubi Sushi rice mixed with Grilled Smoked Salmon, shaped like a triangle,lightly baked with a touch of Sesame Oil.

Nigiri-Zushi Yellowtail (Hamachi)

Sashimi Tuna (Maguro)

Sashimi Salmon (Shake)

Maki-Zushi House Specials:

Summer Roll Tuna, Salmon, Yellow Tail and Avocado. Rolled with Nori on the outside and topped with Ikura Salmon Caviar

Crunchy Salmon Skin Roll Crunchy salmon skin, pickled burdock, cucumber, and kaiware sprouts, rolled urimaki-style


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!


Ah, the holidays... that time of year when I cook feast after Feaste... and frankly, finally, get really tired of cooking. Almost unbelievable. Because I love to cook. Partly because I love to eat, and partly because... I actually enjoy the chopping, stirring, making-changes-on-the-fly... the whole thing.
And for personal reasons it has been a bit of a bah-humbug kind of season.

But this meal, this feast, was my redemption. Have you ever had a meal that felt... like a turning point? I swear I almost saw the clouds part and the sunbeam shine down in all it's blinding glory. I almost heard the choir of angels singing "Aaaaaaahhhhh!" This meal was a great big sigh of relief. A reset button.

A feast.

I am sorry I didn't take more pictures. I didn't expect to finally be inspired to blog again.

Duck. For a Midwestern girl like me, duck was completely foreign. I remember cooking my first duck just a few years ago. It still feels unfamiliar to me, but after tonight's duck, I have a hunger to get on first-name terms with this lovely creature. It's all dark meat. Did you know that? Even after eating two other ducks in my life, I did not. Somehow I missed that. Maybe because my other ducks were from the commissary... and less than half the price of tonight's duck. I wonder now if they were even the same species.

Anyway, the luscious duck was prepared using a very simple recipe from Cook With Jamie, (by cutie-pie Jamie Oliver) one of my favorite and horribly under-used cookbooks. Rub duck with salt (possibly crushed with fresh sage, but I can't find my mortar and pestle), stick a quartered orange up it's backside, and roast at 350 for about 2 hours. Flip it a couple of times, and make sure to drain off (and SAVE) the luscious fat. I did mine on top of a bed of aromatics- celery, onion, garlic, and carrots. Deep-duck-fat-fried garlic cloves are heaven.

As a somewhat unnecessary, but delicious side, I made mashed potatoes and parsnips. Perhaps it's because I can no longer mash my potatoes with cream, but I must say... I really like mixing my potatoes halfsies with parsnips. Very tasty when mashed with copious amounts of butter. And the leftovers will go atop Shepherd's Pie.

Also on the side were Mystery Greens. I used every tool at my disposal to identify them, but I have no idea what I just ate. I got them in my weekly Greenling produce delivery... so I knew they were food. Beyond that... I think they were a member of the mustard family. Quite a bite to them, so I did a quick braise in bacon fat and the turkey stock that I happened to have simmering on the back of the stove. With a bit of vinegar, a few dashes of garlic Tobasco, and some salt... they were very tasty.

There was also a salad, which was forgotten until the end (and was surprisingly refreshing at that point) with fresh local greens and sprouts. But really, the duck stole the show. The Grill Geek and I each ate half the duck. It was a bit of work... it hadn't quite reached the tender stage, but we did not let that hold us back. We both abandoned our cutlery in carnivorous desperation. Every possible morsel was hunted down and consumed. A new craving was born in my soul at the same time that all the stresses of the holidays were greased over with lovely dark meat and duck fat.

I now need duck. Tonight's duck was not what I'd consider regularly affordable... so perhaps it's time to take up hunting? Buy a house with a pond? Learn to use a blowgun and hunt them at the city parks? I'm not sure, but I am sure that I am now deeply in duck love.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Secret Ingredient: Chicken Thighs

Tonight was almost an Iron Chef night. It was nights like this that inspired me to do Iron Chef Mom... last-minute dinner ideas based on what's on hand and needs to be eaten.

We got back from our Thanksgiving trip late Sunday... and it was a doozy of a trip. Monday was spent doing mountains of laundry after spending half the day at the doctor, confirming a miscarriage. Tuesday was more laundry, and lots of cat hair removal. Apparently they molt when the humans are away. Yesterday the Grill Geek flew out to be the grand marshal of his hometown parade. To summarize, I haven't been at the top of my menu-planning game.

I grabbed several things out of the deep freeze, to keep us fed, and left it at that.

Tonight the chicken thighs were due for a turn... but I thought I wasn't in the mood to get creative. I googled recipes, and came across this one. But what to feed the child who hates chicken? Hmmm... perhaps pasta. Perhaps pasta tossed in the extra saucy bits from the chicken! Only 4 chicken thighs, but do the full recipe of sauce, so there's extra.

And maybe add half a sliced onion... red...

And maybe a few sliced mushrooms...

Cooked up in a little of that melted garlic butter.

Mmmmmm...

The picture to the right is the Fairy Child's debut into blog photography. My hands were all chickeny before I realized I wanted a picture of the veggies. So she took this shot for me!

And here it all is, before it went in the oven. I poured the saucey stuff on top... baked it at 400 degrees for 35 minutes. Probably should have done 45. Hope I don't die.

Next time I would cut the butter by half (yikes, am I really saying that?)

I cooked up some rice pasta and tossed a salad while the chicken baked. Once it was done, I poured some of the saucey stuff with some of the noodles. Next time I would toss them with about a tablespoon of soy sauce (tamari) first, so they could suck up that flavor before being coated in greasy goodness. And goodness, there was a lot of grease. That's why I recommend reducing the amount of butter. But it really needed a LOT more garlic, especially to earn the right to have "garlic" in the recipe name. Some green onions at the end would have been nice, too.


And, yeah... that was a rather epic mound of pasta. And really teeny chicken thighs.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Meat Tree

I love meat.

I generally chomp my way through life, with nary a care, eating the food that makes me feel healthy and good. Every now and then my carnivorous ways do make me feel guilty. I don't like the fact that something has to die. I will never willingly be a vegetarian, however. I need meat.

I tend to feel especially guilty when eating cute food. Cows I can generally handle... they're kinda cute, but not overwhelmingly so. Pigs ain't cute at all, once grown, but I'm told they're really smart. Rabbits... ack. I just don't enjoy rabbit. Can't forget how fuzzy-wuzzy they are. Goat is absolutely delicious, but they have such personality! And lamb... yikes. Lambs are really, really cute.

So, I've decided to believe in the Meat Tree. Acres and acres of orchards, some growing beef, some growing pork. Cute little lamb trees that flower in the spring. Yes. Meat trees make me feel much better about things.

My daughter thinks I'm ridiculous. Oh, well.

So, with that in mind, tonight's dinner (the last homemade meal for a week) was lamb burgers, fries, and some crazy thing I did with green beans and a half-ripe tomato. I think I've made lamb burgers before... but this time it worked.

A generous splash of Worcestershire, maybe about 1/4 teaspoon each of onion powder and garlic powder, perhaps a tablespoon of minced fresh oregano, a bit of salt and fresh pepper, and a pound of fresh-picked ground lamb, of course... magic.

See y'all in about a week, I'm off for a holiday road trip.

Geography

Yesterday my hunk of leftover cornbread looked like South Carolina.


And that crusty bit in the middle is Columbia, where I used to live.

That is all.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fried Green Tomatoes


Not being born in the South, I had never had fried green tomatoes before. I saw the movie, but didn't really understand what the fuss was about. Unripe tomatoes? Blech. I'll pass.

But today's Greenling basket included 4 big green tomatoes. I had no idea what else to do with them. So, two of them got fried. They were one part of an absolutely over-the-top fabulous dinner, that was inspired by our need to eat up all our fresh veggies before we leave for a trip next week. Work, work, work, hee hee!

Our locavore feast included pork chops, grilled portabello mushrooms, braised greens with red onions, sweet potatoes, and the luscious fried green tomatoes. All from 'somewhere round here.'

Here's the recipe I used for the tomatoes:

Ingredients:

2 medium-sized green tomatoes sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons GF baking mix
several grinds black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup lard (even the lard was local!)
1 egg, beaten

Directions:

Sprinkle tomato slices with salt and drain on paper towels (on a wire rack) for at least half an hour, but not more than a full hour. Combine cornmeal, baking mix, and seasonings in a bowl or on a plate. Dip each tomato slice in the beaten egg, then in the cornmeal mixture. In a medium skillet, heat oil on medium high. Fry tomato slices about two minutes per side or until golden brown. Drain on a wire rack topped with fresh paper towels. Serve while hot.

They are such a delightful combination of sour, salty, crunchy, and molten tomatoey center. Quite possibly the perfect pregnancy food.

Ener-G Bread Tasting, Part 2

Today's tasting was an exercise in blandness. White Rice, Light White Rice, Brown Rice, and Light Brown Rice. Meh. I arranged to try these four together, to see if any stood out against their beige cousins. The results? Kinda.


Once again, I tried to be somewhat scientific about it all. I noticed right away that the "light" breads were indeed lighter. They weighed less. Weird. I guess that's one way to save calories- make airy bread. The "light" versions had about half the calories of the regular. We'll see whether the savings is worth it...

Straight out of the package, the Light White was very dry. It required the extra chewing typical of gluten-free breads, in order to make the bite wet enough to avoid choking. But it wasn't as bad as some. The regular White was slightly sweeter, noticeably denser, but still not sammich material. (That seems to be the never-ending quest of gluten-avoiders, to find a "bread" that is usable for a real sandwich- two slices- not toasted. Something you could take to a picnic.)
The Light Brown had an odd, spongy texture, but I would consider it Sandwich Grade! In a pinch. It's still not real bread, mind you. The regular Brown had a weird taste. Sorry to be so vague... I chanced a second bite, just to try to describe it better. I couldn't. There was just something unpleasant... sweet but oily. I don't mind grease, as any reader of my blog would know. But this was... just wrong. Blech.


So, the next step was toasting. Oddly, the Light Brown got overtoasted, despite sitting right next to the other three breads in the toaster oven, all of them toasting for the same amount of time... same heat.... Weird. Anyhow, after buttering each piece (I was impatient and hungry, I know I once again messed up the controls) I began tasting again. The Light White was quite gritty after toasting. Bland... I was initially hopeful that I'd found an all-purpose toast, but in the end (of the chewing, that is) it just fell flat. Too sawdusty. Even peach butter couldn't mask the grit. The regular White was very nice toasted. Chewy and bread-like. After being gluten-free for over a year now, my somewhat forgetful tastebuds could be fooled to think this was real bread. The Light Brown (that was now a dark brown due to overtoasting) was very crisp. Perhaps too crisp. Probably due to being overdone. But it had a much better texture than the Light White. No grit. If one is in the market for a reduced-calorie gluten-free "bread", I recommend Ener-G Light Brown. I'm not looking for lower calorie, so I prefer the regular Brown. It had a lovely texture once toasted, no weird flavors, and was perhaps a touch sweeter than the regular White. Chewy, a hint of whole-grain goodness at the beginning of the bite, fading to blank-canvass-blandness at the end.

Overall, I think the regular White was the winner here, since it didn't have funky flavors pre-toasting. One never knows when the electricity might go out, so it's important to have "bread" on hand that doesn't absolutely require toasting. If you feel secure in the presence of a functioning toaster, I recommend the Corn Loaf from the first bread tasting.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Anonymous can kiss my ass

I love the fact that I have comments set to "moderation" for this blog. Nothing gets posted without my approval. I am lord of my domain, a ha ha ha ha ha! Ok, I suppose I'm "lady" of my domain. Anyway, moving on...

Today I got notified that "Anonymous" had commented on an older post of mine, titled "Fat-free Vegan?" Anonymous wanted me to know that the name of the blog was inaccurate... simply chosen for being "catchy" and that I should have actually visited the blog before ranting about it.

No thanks.

First of all, if the author is that desperate for page views, I'm not interested in what they have to say. Name your blog correctly. It's a big deal.

Secondly, the rant was aimed at fat phobes in general, with just a few jabs at the blog author.

And thirdly, I just really don't care. I'll live my life my way... they can live their shortened, stunted life their way.

The anonymous commenter signed their comment "Non-furred Arteries." Cute. Snarky. And by it's implication that my animal-eating arteries are "furred", it is quite inaccurate. What is it with vegans and accuracy? I suppose truth-telling must be activated by retinol.
The last time I had the health of my bacon-veins tested, my cholesterol profile was perfect. So stick that in your salad-hole and chew it.

I don't want to be too... rude, I suppose that's the word... so I will simply end this post with my favorite quote.

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, champagne in one hand, chocolate in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO - What a Ride!"

Friday, November 14, 2008

"Vietnamese seduction"


That's what my recipe book, Basic Asian, calls it. And, I'll give 'em credit... I've definitely been wooed into wanting to try more Vietnamese cuisine!

It all started at the commissary this afternoon... with discount pork. Normally, that would dissuade a person. "Discount" and "pork" should not be used together in the same sentence. Bad things can happen. But I trust my commissary, so when I see "fajita strips" for less than 2 bucks a pound, I pounce.

But I also know I should cook them up right away.

I quickly decided against fajitas. I'm fresh out of corn tortillas, not in the mood to make some myself, and... it just wasn't that vibe tonight.

So... stir-fry. I consulted my go-to Asian cookbook. Rice Noodles with Spicy Pork. I followed the recipe as best I could, but... didn't have all the stuff needed, and can't follow a recipe anyway.

So, here's what I made and it was really, really tasty.

About 1 pound dark and light meat pork strips
1/8 cup sugar (I used turbinado)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/4 cup sake
3/4 cup fresh mint sprigs
3/4 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
(3/4 cup fresh basil sprigs were in the recipe, too, but I didn't have any)
1 incredibly huge cucumber
rice vinegar
salt & pepper
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 yellow onion, sliced thin
1/2 green bell pepper, sliced thin
Sauce:
1 Mystery Hot Pepper (do jalapenos ever get red?)
4 cloves garlic, pressed
3 T tamari
2 T fish sauce (we agreed this was a bit much)
3 T fresh key lime juice
Noodles of your choosing, I used Tinkyada, of course

Mix pork with sugar and fish sauce. Add sake and stir to coat. Stick in the fridge while you do everything else.
Pick leaves off herbs, cut up if you want (I sliced the mint because it was so big). Set aside.

Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds with a spoon, and slice into thin sticks. Put in a largish bowl. Sprinkle with rice vinegar, and add salt and pepper to taste. Eat all of them while cooking, making loud munching noises. Revel in crunchy sour saltiness. *

For the dip/sauce: chop the Mystery Pepper finely, being careful to remove the scary seeds and membranes. Embrace your Yankee Gringo spice-fearing glory. Mix together the chile pepper, garlic, tamari, fish sauce, and key lime juice. Distribute in 4 small bowls.
Heat oil in a large pan or wok, over pretty darn high heat (I think I used "7"), and cook onion and bell pepper until beginning to soften. Drain as much of the sake off the pork as you can. Add half the pork (so you don't crowd the pan), and cook a few minutes, until done. Remove all that from the pan, add the rest of the pork and cook it. Toss it all back in to reheat a minute, add a splash of tamari if you just can't resist.
Serve everything kind of on it's own on the plate, so people can mix together at their whim. After we tasted every possible combination, we decided to mix it all together in a big pile. It was nummy.

* Apparently, the plain, un-vinegared cucumber sticks were supposed to be served alongside the noodles and pork. Hmph. There were also supposed to be bean sprouts, green onions, and salty peanuts. Oh, well.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Shepherd's Pie

Tonight I made true Shepherd's Pie for the first time. As it turns out, us Yankees tend to call any meat-veggie blend topped with potatoes "Shepherd's Pie," when in fact it is Cottage Pie. Shepherd's Pie has lamb, specifically. Makes sense, huh? A Welsh friend pointed that out to me... thanks Shelly!

I wanted to finally use some of the ground lamb I have in the freezer. I know it's good for me... but I just never reach for it. I grew up in Kansas... my meats were beef, chicken, and fish sticks. Thanksgiving brought turkey, to jazz things up, but we didn't really even venture out into ham. So, lamb is rather new territory for me.

I almost made this Jamaican recipe, but didn't feel like I had the time to let the filling cool before assembling. (I planned to use Chebe bread for the pastry.)

So, despite the fact that it was 80 degrees today, which is not quite what I'd call Shepherd's Pie weather, that was the only other idea I liked. Happily, I stumbled upon a Simply Recipes recipe while googling. I love her stuff.
Oddly, her recipe calls for ground beef. Oh, well. Accuracy isn't for everyone. I made it, with lamb, and it tasted really good. Naturally, I tweaked it. I am, after all, pathologically incapable of following a recipe.
I used a lot less veggies- just two carrots- couldn't find the peas in my overstuffed freezer, added a parsnip in with the potatoes, and used chicken broth instead of beef broth. Yeah... just a few changes. LOL

Something Fishy



Mmmmm... this is what I had for Elevensies. Chopped tomato and avocado, topped with smoked salmon salad, with a sprinkling of cheapass caviar. (I would have put a bit more on, but that's all I had left. This afternoon I shall, of course, set forth on an adventure to procure more.)

Delish.

Now I wonder what I should make for lunch?

(Mostly kidding.)

(Ok, only partially kidding. I'm hungry.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

This blog is about to get really weird

I just ate a sliced avocado, dressed with lemon juice and salt, topped with cheapass caviar.

And I loved it.

Aaaahhh, pregnancy...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Ener-G Bread Tasting, Part 1


Mmmm... they can call that "bread" if they want to, but I know better. It's sponge cake. Almost angelfood, and they sell it by the loaf. I want to buy an entire loaf and eat it for breakfast every day, and feel all good about myself for having "bread." LOL

I should back up a bit.

A couple of months ago it dawned on me to see if Ener-G foods sold their products direct from their website. I'd discovered some awesome pretzels while visiting my mom... pretzels I *know* aren't available in San Antonio. Lucky me, their website is happily set up for direct sales, and they offer things I'd never seen before. Like a clever sampler pack of their breads, in 2-slices-of-each packets. Like all their breads, they are shelf-stable, vacuum-packed with dessicant thingies... so I put them on a shelf while I tried to figure out how to taste-test 11 different breads. I wanted to use some sort of quasi-scientific method. I also wanted a wide range of testers, including some gluten-eaters, but that didn't work out. I think my family is scared of my gluten-free frankenbreads.

Today was finally time to start in. I had three breads to try, ones that seemed perhaps to be more "breakfast" breads. A raisin bread, one labelled just "sweet bread", and a corn loaf.
What is with the funky shape of that corn loaf?


The criteria I set up for judging the breads:
-does it need toasted (most GF bread most certainly does)?
-is it sticky/gummy?
-is it suck-the-spit-from-your-mouth dry?
-are there any funky/chemically flavors?
-and then just a notation of whether it'd be best for savory or sweet toppings

The raisin and sweet breads were nice and moist, fresh out of their bags. The corn was... not. It felt and tasted stale. I guess sometimes the dessicant bag thingies don't work right. The sweet bread was a bit sticky/gummy, but I'm guessing that's due to sheer sugar content. It was very appropriately named. The raisin bread was incredibly dry- literally could not swallow it until I had hunted down my glass of water, for fear of choking. The corn loaf had some funky flavors going on that were hard to name. Chemical. Blech.

After toasting, I threw all scientific control methods aside and buttered all three pieces. Habit.


The raisin bread had a nice, typical sweet-tart raisiny taste. It never did get very crisp, despite overtoasting. It was nice, and if you've missed raisin toast since going gluten-free, it'd probably fill in. The corn bread (not cornbread, that's an entirely different thing) improved incredibly with toasting. As a matter of fact, I only got two tiny nibbles before my son snatched it and gobbled it down. If I remember right, it tasted like Real (overtoasted) Bread. Like your ordinary cheap grocery store bread, toasted within an inch of it's life. Pretty darn good, in a bland way*. Hence my 3-yo absconding with it.

And the sweet bread, ohhhhh the sweet bread.... Not bread at all. I know it's secret. The overtoasting turned it's sticky sweetness into caramel. Especially with a smear of butter on top.... oh, baby. That's not bread, that's cake.

* Not bland in a tapioca-rice "bread" kind of way, if that's what you've been subsisting on. It really tasted... wheaty. But like it would easily host any kind of topping or spread you wished. Just like Real Bread.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Play Along At Home!

It's time for some interactive internet... I need someone to tell me what I ate for dinner. I haven't died yet... ate some of the same thing a few days ago, too... and it came from my beloved local farm delivery service, so I trust it. It is some sort of technically-green bean. But definitely not your ordinary grocery store variety. What is it? How is it best-prepared? I don't know. Do you?


The first night we ate the Mystery Bean, I simply steamed it with a little lemon. It was good. Beany. Tonight I stir-fried it with mushrooms, onion, red pepper, and carrot. And completely forgot to take more pictures. With a bit of a tamari-garlic-lemon sauce, it was very good alongside grilled pork chops.

In case anyone has a weird monitor... the splotchies on the Mystery Beans are pinkish-red, not brown or anything diseasey.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

This has nothing to do with food

So all ye with your growling guts, and head teeming with visions of sugar plums (or bacon), turn away... this is not the post for you. Or maybe it is. Maybe you can stuff your faces with whatever's nearby, and be able to think non-food thoughts. (Yes, I know... strange new territory for me, as well.)

Shockingly, this close to an election, this post is about politics. I didn't expect to go there. But, here I am. And after all this preamble, I'm actually going to let someone else do most of the talking. So, please... go here. Read why no one with a brain should vote for McCain.

After being initiated into the Grieving Parents Club over 5 years ago, I have been on an email list called SPALS (Subsequent Pregnancy After Loss Support). I am constantly astounded at the number of women who's bodies flip out on them. The complications that everyone has heard about but no one really thinks about- eclampsia, intrauterine growth retardation, incompetent cervix- happen hundreds of times a day. Right now, as you're reading this, there is a mother-to-be right here in America who is suddenly losing her baby.

What no one thinks about is... if the mama is less than 26 weeks along and suffering from eclampsia, staying pregnant could kill her. And the baby is hardly ready for life outside the womb. And if the situation gets dire enough, the docs induce her or she gets a c-section. With everyone knowing the baby will die. That is, essentially, an abortion. The right to save the mother's life in that instance would be taken away by John McCain. And it's not a rare event, unfortunately. If the laws tie the hands of the doctors, there will be such confusion and chaos... and so much more loss of life. Because, if mama dies with baby in-utero, baby dies, too. And then a heartbreaking situation gets even worse.

I don't like abortion, and hate applying the word to the above example, but McCain and Palin wouldn't shy away from it.

This mama is voting for Obama.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tilapia, fruit of the sea?

I have had a craving stuck in my head for a few months now. It is very specific. I can see it, almost perfectly in my mind. It is a nice fat fish, head and all, stuffed full of, well... stuff... and wonderfully crispy from the grill.

I just can't remember where I saw it.

I have been rather unsuccessfully searching for the recipe and the right fish for quite a while. I keep not getting it right. But that's ok... because the "failures" all taste pretty darn good anyway. Today's fish was black tilapia, because that's what the store had in the category of "dinner is looking at you." And it was. But anyway... it wasn't quite what I'd expected, so I needed to google around for some ideas. I was inspired by this marinade and the basic gist here.

I cooked up half a bell pepper, half a giant red onion, half a mystery pepper (of the spicy kind), and a few mushrooms, all chopped up of course. And cooked in bacon fat, of course. I stuffed some of that into the fish. The rest was simmered in the leftover marinade.

The fish was a lot smaller than I'd expected, at under 1 pound, including all the bits we weren't going to eat. So I told the Grill Geek to toss a couple of boudin on the grill, as well.

The promise of good things to come...

He grilled the fish about 5 minutes per side. It worked. Not undercooked, not overcooked.

The anticipation:

Despite the oil in the marinade, the skin stuck to the grill basket. Oh, well, I wasn't planning to eat it anyway.

The veggies that didn't fit inside the fish went on top of rice. Just a squeeze of Meyer lemon to dress the fish- it was so tender, rather silky even. I had no idea the humble tilapia could be so good.


By the way, the Grill Geek insists that tilapia is not the "fruit of the sea," as Bubba from Forest Gump would say. Because a fruit can be eaten raw, and you wouldn't want to do that with tilapia. He says instead it is the "vegetable of the sea."
I just really wanted a cleverish title for this entry. So, I'm sticking to it. But I've included his comments because... well... he's right.

Sunday Coupon Rant

First, let me apologize for the lack of recipes and actual food, recently. I have been cooking... doubt not. And I have even been taking pictures of my food. I have not been using recipes much lately, as I tend to know how things go together at this point. And I've just not been finding the time to upload the pictures. There has been a rarely-ending chorus of "You wanna play blocks with me? Let's play trains! Look, I made you a cookie, eat it! I wanna watch a movie, you wanna make popcorn? Let's play Hungry Hippos!" And, unfortunately, a common refrain of "my tummy hurts." I'm trying to figure out the cause of that last one.

My rants are, oddly, few this week. Despite already being cranky while looking through the coupons, due to drinking "herbal coffee," I didn't see much fresh material. And I hate to simply repeat myself. However, a couple of things did get my hackles up.

Bob Evans homestyle side dish thingies. "The perfect dinner companions. Everyone could use a little homestyle." Featured in the ad are mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and macaroni and cheese. Available in your grocer's refrigerated section. Because microwaved mac&cheese singles are too hard? If you're going to eat crap food, where's the line between tacky/premade and yummy/homestyle? The green bean casserole I can understand. Making that from "scratch" is dangerously close to actual cooking. It involves opening at least three cans... can't recall exactly, since I never made it. Mashed potatoes... already prepared from flakes for your convenience. Mmmm... wonder if they use "real" margarine? (Yes, I know that's an oxymoron.) But the macaroni is what made me yell out "that's retarded!" so it wins the place of (dis)honor here. How lazy have people become that they can't even bother to boil water? A true "homestyle" macaroni and cheese is a wonderful thing... the pasta has a bit of bite to it still, resisting the teeth just a touch in true "al dente" style, the cheese sauce is a blend of cheeses with sharp Cheddar as well as softer cheeses, to add creaminess. There are buttery, crunchy crumbs on top, to delight the senses with a variation of textures- chewy, creamy, crunchy. Real macaroni and cheese is a work of art. (And let me just say that I hate all of you who can still eat it.) But this Bob Evans product... this "homestyle" macaroni and cheese... there are no crumbs. The "cheese" probably ends in a "z." And I venture to guess the pasta has no texture whatsover. Don't stir it overmuch, our you'll simply have orange goo.

Second place this week goes to Tyson. I generally leave Tyson alone. Sure they raise franken-chickens in horrendous factory conditions and have forever changed the perception of what chicken tastes like by making it bland and fluid-injected. However, they often have gluten-free options that others don't. So I kinda don't hate them as much as I should. Today I take exception to the big, bold headline on their add for chicken nuggets. (The one disgusting junk food my children don't like!) "Clean plates start here."

WTF?!?!

Last I heard, and I hear it a LOT from every form of news media, American children are fatter than ever. They are developing Type II diabetes in record numbers. They are sicker and more unhappy than ever. It has been accepted theory for years now that "cleaning your plate" has disastrous effects on attitude toward food. It completely numbs the senses toward being able to tell when you're full.
From the rest of the ad, it's clear that they are talking about picky eaters... and believe me, I sympathize with that cause. My children are very selective about what they'll eat. But I decided a long time ago not to make it a battleground. They are in control of their bodies, not me. I also know from experience that food allergies can make people dislike the foods that make them ill. (Ironically, allergies can also cause cravings for the damaging foods, but that's another topic.)

The goal with eating should be nourishment. Hopefully, there is good conversation and a feeling of well-being around the table while eating as well. But the goal is most-definitely NOT a clean plate. That's the dishwasher's job, not the child's.

And finally, as a bonus... I just really had a laugh about this one. The Jerry Springer crowd will be relieved to know that they can now bop over to their neighborhood drugstore for a "Fast. Accurate. Confidential." test to discover just who is the Baby Daddy. Identigene now markets an over-the-counter mail-in test, with results in just 3-5 days.
It gets even better... on the box it says in large letters "DNA Paternity Test." Below that, in itty bitty print: "For Alleged Father, Mother, and Child."
"Alleged"
I love it!!!

Watch out, though... just buying it from the Walgreens, for whatever the shelf price is, isn't enough. Microscopic mouse print lets you know "Additional $119.00 Laboratory Fee Required." Better go donate some plasma to cover that.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fat-Free Vegan?

Bonus rant! (Warning, very offensive to people who like to get offended.)

So, I was innocently surfing through my Morning Coffee tabs this morning, when one of my favored food blogs showed a link to Fat-Free Vegan, a blog. And I snapped. I didn't even click on it, but I snapped. I'm sorry... I know how much vegetarians and vegans hate it when carnivores care what they do or don't eat. Normally I don't care. Normally I just eat what I eat and everyone else can do the same and I rant in my personal space and that's it.

But... I snapped.

Fat-free vegan? WTF? What do they eat? They don't eat nuts, obviously, because those have fat. They don't eat yummy avocados, because those have fat. They must eat carrot sticks and celery and... lettuce. Bunny food. They are at the bottom of the food chain. They are negating millions of years of evolution- so much hard work by countless generations of ancestors. All for what? Some uppity feeling of purity? What did they do that was so wrong, in this life or the last, that requires such a cruel penitence? Who were they? Are today's vegans all recycled S.S. soldiers? Were they gassing Jews for Hitler and have to cleanse their souls in this life?

I just don't understand.

So, naturally, I'm making bacon right now. A great big pan full of drippy bacon, happily roasting away in my fat-spattered oven, juices popping, formerly-alive cells bursting and caramelizing with tantalizing animal flavor.

Take that and stick it in your carrot-hole.

Anyway, back to evolutionary freakatude. (OMG, did you know freakatude is actually a word? I didn't.) 4 million years ago great-great-Grandpa Ape dropped down from his tree and wandered around a bit, looking for something to eat. He found the ocean. He caught a fish. He ate it, the delicious, healthy, nourishing fats went straight to his brain and it instantly got half a size bigger. He got a great idea to make a net and catch more fish. His family gorged themselves on delicious ocean animals and got so smart they became the kings and queens of apes. The cranky vegan apes climbed back up and lived in sterile little religious nut colonies, not having any babies, and soon died out.

How is it they've come back?

Fat-free vegan. What in the name of all that is yummy would provoke a person to do that to themselves? Do they think it will keep them healthy and strong? Because it won't. It will not. Unless they have some sort of freakish metabolic disorder whereby they cannot process fats... but even then, the body REQUIRES fat. It is not optional. The body will start stripping itself down for scrap, if it has to. That poor freak's brain will likely be the first to go- which is ok, since they aren't using it.

I just flipped my bacon. It's coming along quite nicely. Mmmmm... bacon...

I just really don't understand fat-phobe people. Seriously. They seem to all have a connection with religious-based self-mortification. The idea that we are inherently sinful and disgusting, and must be saved from ourselves. This seems to lead people to believe that any and all natural impulses can't be trusted. Humans LOVE fat. We crave creamy, buttery, juicy foods. So, these people rationalize those foods must be bad. Unhealthy. Sinful. And since when did unhealthy = sinful, anyway? So many people feel actual sin-type remorse if they eat the "wrong" thing or don't exercise that day. I just don't understand. Guilt serves no purpose.

God made bacon. How can people reject the gift?

Fat-free vegan. Not low-fat vegan... no, that's sooooo yesterday. Every self-loathing, unhappy emo kid does that. Fat-free. That's just... impossible. Even vegetables have waxy coatings to their cells. Every freaking living thing on the planet has some sort of fat in it. There's a reason for that. It's necessary for life. Especially in humans.

BTW... I can explain those feelings of self-loathing and depression... they stem from a lack of fat. Seriously. I became clinically depressed for several months following a bout of giardiasis (food poisoning, basically) that left me unable to digest much fat. It took me a year to recover. That's how important fat is.

I'm going to go eat my bacon now.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Hard times, drastic measures?

I realize there's an economic-hard-times going on (it's not a depression yet, but what IS it?), and this week's coupons clearly show a concerted effort from the Phood Makers to try to save us all money. Try to convince us we don't have to give up our packaged, pre-made, convenient phoods- here's a handy coupon to make it magically affordable. A real focus on savings and cheapness.

And I can appreciate the idea behind it. People need to eat.

What I don't appreciate is slick advertising that borders on the verge of lying.

Campbells had their very own coupon insert... several pages extolling the virtues of soup. So economical, so "healthy." Canned soup seems closer to real food, sometimes. A choice you can be proud of. One page in the packet simply said "The Original Dollar Menu" in large letters. Underneath, a spread of soup cans bordered by bona fide real vegetables. And in front of it, a bowl of soup. It goes on to explain that "at less than $1 per serving... you are looking for ways to save money; but saving does not mean skimping." Wow, a dollar for a bowl of soup... "farm-grown vegetables" (is there another way? I'm sure Monsanto is working on one.)
A chart of sorts to the side once again reminds us, less than $1.00, 4 minutes to prepare, and the kicker... 100 calories or less.

100 calories.

That's not much lunch. That's not even much of a contribution toward lunch. That means you're probably getting about 1/2 ounce of "tender meats", so you're going to need more protein. You got twice as much refined salt as anyone needs, and those veggies have less life left in them than the paper wrapper around the can.

100 calories. Just off the top of my head, I can think of a way to spend $1 for 100 calories and actually get some nutrients. How about a baby spinach salad with a homemade oil-and-vinegar dressing, with a chopped hard-boiled egg? I won't bother saying someone could make their own soup, because that requires cooking.

The next thing that caught my eye was the hotpink spread for Bake for the Cure... cuz it's all about breast cancer this month. (I won't go there. I won't. I know I have unconventional views, and this is a FOOD blog, not a cancer blog... ) So, the hotpink spread... buy these products, save women's lives, that's the idea, right? Ok... what've we got? Yeast packets, corn starch, and corn syrup.

Wait a minute...

Sugar? No, not even sugar, that would be a slightly better choice. Corn syrup! It hurts the liver! Cancer in general and breast cancer specifically are generally due to liver problems! At least it can be said that the liver being HEALTHY can be a good part of the fight against cancer. And cancer loooooooves sugar. It loves starchy carby crap, too. So "bake for the cure" Cherry Almond Roll and Triple Berry Crisp and Chocolate Caramel Bars are all featured. It's all cancer-food. AAAACCCCKKK!!!

Oh, but don't worry. The ad apparently isn't aimed at women who HAVE cancer. It's for all the non-cancer-havers that want to help the poor, unfortunate, not-mes who do have cancer. It doesn't apply to Nancy Soccermom. She can eat all the sugar she wants. It doesn't apply to all the young girls who gobble up the gooey Chocolate Caramel Bars from the bake sale. Oh, maybe that one girl who's aunt had breast cancer... oh, but she's so young. Give her a second helping. By the time she gets cancer, there'll be a cure. Let's bake, bake, bake!

Grrrrrrr... naturally our health has nothing to do with what we eat....

And now, to lighten the mood, I present my first ever anti-rant. I'm actually going to say something nice about something I saw in the coupon ads.

(Everyone recovered now?)

Arm & Hammer Essentials, some sort of multi-surface cleaner, offers a reusable spray bottle. But that's not all. You can buy refills of the cleaning product, which are little bitty, as they figure you're capable of adding water. It's... kinda cool. Kinda eco-friendly. No idea what chemicals are involved, or whether the little refill bottles are recyclable. And maybe there's some other issue I'm missing here entirely. But... on the surface (har har, sort of a pun, sorry), it seems good. Let's bask in that.

I'll end with a WTF? There's a noise and a tilting of the head that goes with this, that I'm not sure how to describe. But, I'm a bit puzzled. I wish you could all see this ad.

Amish Naturals. Is it sausage? Bread? Yummy cinnamon rolls with 3 times too much icing? No. Nor is it butter or homemade cornbread.

Pasta. Yeah. Um... from Ohio, no less. With "twice filtered well water." WTF? I'm just so confused.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday rant

I'm a day late, I know. I was out of town and have been catching up on housework. Part of that included seeing if there were any relevant coupons in yesterday's paper (there usually aren't, but since we get the paper, I always check.)

Those who have read my previous rants will likely recall that I hate it when food manufacturers can't do math. Or else when they assume I can't do math. Maybe it has nothing to do with math and they conclude business meetings by rolling dice to randomly assign value to their upcoming coupons. Because... someone somewhere is actually getting paid to think this stuff up. ("stuff" was not my original choice of words, but I am trying to behave myself.)

Let us begin with Ragu. Ah, Ragu, it's in there. Wait, that's someone else's ad. Sorry. Anyhow, they're offering a $1 off. That generally catches my attention. 15 cents isn't worth my time. $1... well... that's almost real money. What do I have to buy to save a buck? 2 pasta sauces and 1 dry pasta.
I'll repeat. 2 sauces, 1 pasta.

I'll admit that in my attempts at lowering my carbs, I've put pasta sauce on things other than pasta. But... most folks aren't that creative. The folks that buy jarred pasta sauce because they have no idea that a little onion and garlic cooked until soft and a can of diced tomatoes makes something that tastes even better. So... the people they are marketing to are really going to need more pasta. Why have the pasta even involved? Ragu doesn't, to my knowledge, make pasta.

Along the lines of Things People Ought To Make For Themselves... pancakes. There's a Bisquick ad for pancakes. I happen to know of a full-grown adult who had no idea it was possible to make pancakes without a mix. Well, fine readers, I can assure you that pancakes are beginner-easy. It's not rocket science. Flour (doesn't even have to be wheat! *gasp*), baking powder, liquid, eggs, maybe some fruit... it's just really hard to mess up pancakes. If they're too thick, add liquid. Too thin? Call 'em crepes.
"Bisquick, let's make pancakes!" it says at the bottom of the ad. On top is "Magical Pancake Mornings." Ugh. Look, Mikey, Mommy cooked! Sort of. Mommy added water to powder and got it hot.

I seem to be on a roll here for Stuff That's Way Easier Than People Think, so I'll continue with popcorn. I've got an ad here for Orville Redenbacher's, "Enjoy the Gourmet Flavors of Natural Popcorn!" What gourmet flavors are they featuring? Buttery Salt & Cracked Pepper, Buttery Garlic, Simply Salted, and Butter.

I need a stare-y face right here. One that looks like it's saying "Really? That's what you've got? Wow. That's stupid."

Would you like to enjoy some natural popcorn? I know you know what's coming... but I don't mind being predictable. Get a pan. Preferrably a metal one with no weird coatings, but enameled cast iron would be fine, enamel doesn't count as weird. I use a stainless steel saucepan-type thing. Make sure yours has a lid.
Cover the bottom with oil. Vegetable oil sucks really, as it's generally soy oil these days. I use a mix of coconut and palm oils. I know most folks don't have those on hand, so... use what you've got. I'll never know if you're desecrating your body temple with soy. (I can tell you that both butter and bacon grease burn like crazy when making popcorn, so don't use those.) Now, add a layer of popcorn kernels, so the bottom of the pan is covered. No measuring needed.
Put the lid on, turn the heat to medium, and shake it around, just to coat the kernels with oil a bit.
Now leave it alone. You don't have to babysit it. You don't have to shake it constantly. It'll take 5-10 minutes, probably, depending on how fast your stove heats up. When you hear the first pop, go back to the stove and start half-heartedly jiggling. It isn't really necessary at all, as the popped corn goes up and the kernels stay down, so shaking it really just keeps you entertained. You do want to take it off the burner as soon as it stops popping, though. Burned popcorn sucks.
Now, put your popcorn in a big bowl. Let the pan cool a bit (stove should be OFF), and then plop in a bunch of butter. Room temp butter burns less than cold butter. When the butter is melted, pour it over the popcorn, add salt, and shake it around.

There you go. Sure, it dirtied a pan and took longer than a bag in the microwave, but everyone agrees it tastes better. And there's no risk of lung cancer from artificial butter flavoring. If you want to get gourmet with it, add pepper. Or garlic powder. Or cinnamon-sugar. Or nutritional yeast (I'm told it tastes like Parmesan.) Chocolate syrup or maple syrup or melted nut butter-and-honey... I'm sure you can get way more creative with it than Mr. Redenbacher.

I ended up giving you a recipe, of sorts. In return I'd like to know if anyone knows why the gal in the Benefiber ad looks like she's wearing half a Cookie Monster costume. And why she has no arms. What do hairy blue-green blobs have to do with constipation?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Everything Awesome

... roasted together in one pan. That's what I had for dinner tonight. What'd you have? Frozen pizza? Mac-and-cheez? I'm sorry for your loss. Oh, did I mention that the active time it took to prepare dinner was less than 15 minutes? I'm just rubbing grease in your wounds now, aren't I?

I apologize for the snarkiness above. It would seem I have a taunting reaction to meals loaded with yumminess.

I will have to wait to upload the photo evidence of tonight's ambrosia, as I am away from home and without my camera cable. (I actually thought to myself, while packing, "no, there's no reason I'd need that.") Little did I know that I would soon be seized once again with the urge to blog.

Without further nonsense... tonight's dinner. As usual, I don't know what to call it. It's based on a Nigella Lawson recipe (love her!) simply named One Pan Sage and Onion Chicken and Sausage. That's a heck of a name. Accurate. But long.
And I need to make it even longer, because I tweaked it. I added to it. I am pathologically incapable of following directions, it would seem. But I can't name it One Pan Garlic and Onion Chicken and Sausage with Potatoes and Tomatoes. That'd just be wrong.

So, in lieu of that, I'm considering Everything Awesome. Because that's what's in it. Take a look... I think you'll agree. Leave a comment and let me know.

Ingredients:
1 large onion, cut into 8 wedges
6-10 (or more) peeled garlic cloves, whole but smashed a bit
3-4 tablespoons bacon fat (was out of olive oil, this was definitely a yummy substitution)
1tablespoon mustard- Nigella calls for English, of course, I used spicy brown, because that's what was available
1 tablespoon dried sage or herby blend
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins is gluten-free)
Freshly-ground black pepper
4-6 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
About 1 pound sausage, cut into 3-inch lengths, if necessary
Some small red potatoes, cut into fourths (wedges)
A couple handfuls of fresh-picked homegrown cherry tomatoes (yeah, now I'm just bragging)

Mix all the seasonings and grease and onions and garlic in a ziploc, squishing it around. Add the chicken, squish some more, and refrigerate overnight, or at least a little while if this is a last-minute thing.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Plop the ziploc ingredients into a big baking dish (I think I used a 9x13 Pyrex), nestle the sausage pieces in, and add the potato wedges. Try to coat the potatoes with a bit of the saucy goodness, or at least stick them next to sausages, to share the fatty love. Bake/roast for 1 hour and 15 minutes, turning the sausages over halfway through. If the potato wedges look woefully dry, add some juice from the pan, or drizzle a bit of bacon grease over them. (Tip: if you keep your bacon fat near the back of the stove it'll be liquid after 45 minutes of the oven being on. Easy to drizzle that way.)
Add the tomatoes, whole, near the end, with 15-20 minutes left.

Dig in. Serve with a salad, if you feel guilty.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday coupon rant is BACK!

Oh. My. God.

What is the world coming to? Just how ridiculous are we going to get? Where is the bottom of the rabbit hole?

Here I was, innocently flipping through the ads in the Sunday paper... not even looking for rant-fodder, when I came across the Petco ad. Normally I would have tossed it directly on the recycle pile, unseen. But, I wondered where a Petco might be 'round here, so it caught my eye.

The next thing that caught my eye was the special announcement in the upper right corner... "Introducing The Dog Whisperer Pet Products." I kid you not. But before I could even summon a half-hearted "OMG, like the dogs tell him what stuff they want?!?" I saw one of the new products.

My jaw dropped. My rant spewed forth.

Fortified bottled water for dogs.

Allow me to repeat myself in case you don't like going back to re-read... it's specially-made bottled water, fortified (with what?) for dogs. Dogs. You know... the same slobbery, fuzzy, butt-sniffing creatures that drink out of toilets. That's some fortified water, if you forgot to flush or haven't cleaned recently.
The same halfwits that joyfully dig for buried snackies in the litterbox.

Fortified bottled water... for dogs. "Specially developed with Cesar Milan and veterinarians to give essential hydration a healthful boost."

Is your doggie lacking in trace minerals? Needs more amino acids? Perhaps he's not getting enough Omega-3s? Fear not, the Dog Whisperer is eager to take your money.

Bottled water. For dogs. Unbelievable.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I forgot to take a picture!

I can't believe I forgot.

Ok, I believe it. I just... I was at the mercy of a late dinner (that smelled REALLY good while cooking) and a second glass of wine (on an empty stomach)... and I flat forgot.

I don't even know what to call this, but it was plate-licking delicious. And I am not kidding. I licked it. I offered my plate to the Grill Geek, but he had already moved on to contentedly digesting.

Bekki's Whatchamacallit

2 large pork sausages, the spicy kind with removable casings. Since they can be removed... remove them. Ew, don't they look weird?
1/2 a large onion, sliced
Some fat... olive oil, bacon or duck fat, whatever

Soften the onions in the fat, then add the crumbled sausage. When the sausage is browned, add:

1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 to 1 1/2 cups sprouted beans and lentils (I didn't measure)
About 2 cups chicken stock (once again, didn't measure... just make sure there's plenty of liquid)

Simmer about 45 minutes. I thought sprouted beans would cook quicker. They didn't seem to. Oh, the torture! But, they finally did cook, and I served the whatchamacallit over rice, with a side of sliced summer squash sauteed in butter.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Food Porn


This is heaven. The pinnacle. Nirvana. The best of foods. And yet... due to the illicit saturated fat content... somehow dirty and forbidden. I love being a nutrition rebel. A food pirate.

Baked chicken, simply basted in it's own fat, sprinkled with sea salt, cracked pepper, and paprika. Not just any chicken, though... a truly pastured chicken. A chicken that actually ran around outside. Not just "free-range" which means essentially nothing. Nope, I saw this chicken's pecking grounds. Collected a fresh egg from one of it's cousins. This was a wonderfully-healthy, bug-eating, sunshine-soaking, clucking-at-the-nearby-cows chicken. And it was delicious.

Then there are the mashed potatoes... locally-grown red taters, with the skin on, mashed with grass-fed cow butter and a bit of chicken stock. The collards are cooked, as all collards should be, with onions that were softened in bacon fat, then simmered in chicken stock until tender. Top with a bit of garlic Tabasco and vinegar... unbelievably delicious, nutrient-dense, good-for-you real food.

Life is good.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ratatouille


I got eggplant in my local box this week.

I don't like eggplant, I thought.

Fortunately, my Little Guy loves the movie "Ratatouille" and I thought it'd be a hoot to try my hand at the title dish. I'm not sure why I picked this recipe, but... it caught my eye. Perhaps it was the unconventional chart at the bottom.

I wish now that I'd chosen the movie version, as that would have been super cool.

But the first recipe is quite tasty. Very winter stew-ish, despite being all summer veggies. I served mine atop cornbread, since I don't have the option of a crusty baguette. The cornbread was a bit crisp from the super-hot oven, and really worked well. We also had some slow-cooked grassfed chuck roast. Delish!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Black-Eyed Peas


This week, fresh black-eyed peas were in my local box of produce. As silly as it may sound, I had never realized that peas and beans could be eaten... well... fresh. I'd only ever seen them dried. Obviously they don't grow that way, but... well... I'd just never thought it through.

I nibbled one of the fresh peas, and it was delicious! But, I know that phytates are a serious issue with all legumes and grains, so... some cooking was necessary. I should have soaked them first, but didn't think of it in time. Instead, I simmered them in some chicken broth for what seemed like ages, added a dash of garlic Tabasco, and once they were finally soft, tossed them in a pan of collards. We also had some beyond-fabulous local pork sausage, that the Grill Geek graciously grilled (say that five times fast!)

Tequila + Shrimp = Love

I'm back. Did you miss me? I did. I have no excuses for my blog-absence, I hope you all ate well while I was gone. I hope to have plenty of yummy ideas to get your taste buds drooling. Food is always worth the effort!

Tequila Shrimp with Rice

Prep time: 20 minutes (includes cleaning shrimp)
Cook time: 1 hour
Serves 4

scant ¼ cup fat- bacon, coconut oil, olive, whatever
½ large onion, chopped
½ large red bell pepper, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ pound chorizo, thinly sliced (or pepperoni)
1½ cups canned chopped tomatoes
½ can black beans, drained
¾ cup tequila
1 cup shrimp stock
¾ cup long-grain white rice
½ tsp kosher salt
generous shakes of Hungarian paprika
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

  • In a very large, shallow paella pan or skillet, heat fat over medium heat. Add onion, and bell pepper and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and chorizo and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and beans and stir well.

  • Increase heat to high and add the tequila, shrimp stock, rice, salt, and paprika and stir well again.

  • Add shrimp, mix well, and bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes, or until the shrimp is cooked and the rice has absorbed the liquid. Serve, with a sprinkle of cilantro, if desired.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Iron Chef Mom Returns!


It's been a while, but, I finally got to do another "episode" of Iron Chef Mom. This time the Secret Ingredient was boneless pork sirloin roast. Once again it seemed impossible to do anything good with it in just an hour. Then I got the idea of chopping it up for kebabs!

Dinner was kebabs with red bell pepper and spring onions atop cabbage slaw, calabacitas salad, and plain rice. I would have loved to make Mexican rice, but there just wasn't time for anything else, and I ended up appreciating the plainness, actually... it was a bit soothing with all the spicy stuff!

I was amazed to get done with 1 minute left on the clock. The key is figuring out the "order of events" ahead of time.

First thing- start the rice cooker. I know a lot of people think rice cookers are silly, but I love mine. I just toss stuff in and forget it. If it's done before the rest of dinner... no worries... it stays warm. The rest went like this:
Slice cabbage thinly, salt, and leave in a colander to drain.
Make marinade
Cube pork, marinate in fridge (reserve some marinade to brush on while grilling)
Chop veggies, slice squash for grilling
Grill squash
Cook bacon
Wring out cabbage and toss with dressing
Chop grilled squash and assemble salad
Assemble kebabs
Grill stuff

Marinade for pork


1/2 cup salsa verde
1/4 red onion, sliced and quickly browned in bacon fat
3 cloves garlic (toss in with the onion at the end, to brown a bit)
1/4 cup spiced rum
1 very small chipotle pepper

Whizz it all together in a blender.
I didn't try it, but after tasting it, I really think I should have... pineapple would have been awesome here. About 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup fresh pineapple, with about 1/2 teaspoon salt added. Would have been fabulous.
I only had time to marinate for about 30 minutes. Longer would have been nice, but 30 really was enough. It was a fairly tender cut of meat, and brushing the reserved marinade/sauce on while grilling added plenty of flavor.

Cabbage Slaw

¼ head, each, red and green cabbage, very-thinly sliced
1 tsp salt
Juice from one lime
1 T. ACV
1 T olive oil

Place cabbage in a large bowl, tossing it with salt. Press it down firmly with hands, to help it break down a bit. Place in a colander in the sink, allowing 20 minutes to drain.

Wring it out with paper towels and put back in a bowl. Toss with juice, vinegar, and oil.

Let sit at room temp 15 minutes before serving.


Calabacitas Salad

2-4 zucchini and yellow squash, sliced in half lengthwise
2 slices bacon, chopped and browned
2 tablespoons orange juice
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
½ tsp dried cilantro (fresh would be much better- 1 tablespoon, perhaps?)
about ¼ cup fresh goat cheese

Brush the squash with olive oil on the cut side and sprinkle with salt. Grill.

Chop into small pieces, toss with juice and oil, sprinkle with cilantro, and top with bacon and cheese.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Recent Eats

I hate it when I don't post punctually... but... life happens. So, once again, a montage of recent meals.

Saturday night I made this riff on a traditional German dish of sausage and cabbage. The original recipe calls for apples, but I wanted a more-summery version.

Grilled pork chop, grilled asparagus, and Rainbow Sidedish. Which was grilled. I love grilling, because all I have to do is prep. Then the Grill Geek takes over. I loved this version of Sidedish. Normally it contains potatoes, garlic, and onions, with olive oil or butter, and salt. (Wrapped up in heavy duty foil and cooked while the grill heats up for the main course, about 30 minutes.) This time it was red onions, orange bell pepper, yellow squash, and zucchini, with herb butter. Fabulousity.

Sort-of-Chili, on a grilled, bacon-wrapped potato, with salad. The chili (made with leftover grilled pork and leftover veggie-heavy marinara) didn't thicken. So, it was soup on a potato. Weird, but tasty.

Bacon Weaving

Y'all probably never thought you'd see a subject line like that, did you?

No, I haven't lost my mind. I saw a picture online a few days ago, of someone else's woven bacon, and I was inspired.
Mother's Day isn't a day off for me, so... since I'm going to be cooking anyway, I might as well make it fun. And weaving bacon is fun! At first I tried to justify it, postulating that perhaps it would cook more-evenly, or be easier to flip during cooking. The truth of the matter is, I like to play with my food. And not even Martha Stewart would weave her bacon. A chance to one-up The Woman is always appreciated.

To begin, lay out strips of bacon... these are actually too far apart, as I was picturing the whole thing wrong in my head. You want them right next to each other. This was just plain ol' Oscar Meyer bacon... "America's Favorite" or whatever. I prefer a snooty applewood-smoked bacon, but, this is pretty tasty.

There really isn't a need to weave efficiently... it's not that big of a project where time-saving tips matter. However, after the first couple of cross-pieces are placed, you can flip up the ones that need to go on top, lay down the new piece of bacon, and then flip them back down. It's easier than doing over-under, over-under with limp meat.
Before you even know it, you're done!



Here it is, ready to go into the oven, I inverted the cooling rack over the bacon, and flipped the whole thing, including the cutting board. It worked well, to keep things from getting rearranged.

Now that I think about it, I guess I could have easily done the weave directly on the rack. Oh, well.

375-ish, 10 minutes per side, two flips, for a total of about 30 minutes. My oven is possessed by an obnoxious demon, however, and doesn't keep an accurate temperature, so... your mileage will certainly vary.

A work of art

I used kitchen shears to cut it into serving sizes, because it wasn't crisp enough to break. I would have liked it much crisper in the middle... next time I'll try broiling at the end. Maybe a chunk of time at a lower heat would bake some of the extra grease

Woven bacon, real champagne... life is good.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Cauliflower and Meatballs


Roasted cauliflower, topped with a veggie-heavy marinara, with meatballs and pea-shoot salad. I'd been wanting to try roasting cauliflower for quite a while, so when a head of it showed up in my weekly local produce delivery, I was excited. I washed it, cut it in chunks, tossed them with olive oil and salt, and roasted at about 375. I had just baked the meatballs, so I just used the same oven temp.
I was also very excited to get more pea tendrils/shoots, so I could make another fabulous salad. This time I kept it simpler, with basically just the vinaigrette, lettuce, and pea shoots.

When the cauliflower was done roasting it smelled like roasted Brussels sprouts. Which makes sense, I suppose, since they're cousins. I love roasted Brussels sprouts... more than the cauliflower. It was good, and an interesting lower-carb option to pasta or polenta. But... I kinda doubt I'll do it again.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Cinco de Yummo

Cheesy, I know... sometimes I run out of ideas for the titles of my blog posts.

Cinco de Mayo in South Texas... I really ought to be having more of a feast. Oh, well, we are a small family, and didn't invite anyone over because I'm still getting over a cold. I'm 90% there, but... want to make sure I don't share my germs.

Saucy bits

On the menu tonight:
Rice, pork, chips and guacamole, saucy bits, watermelon. And, of course, margaritas. But not the blender kind.

I sautéed the rice in olive oil before tossing it in the rice cooker this time... a step in the direction of more-authentically Mexican. I didn't add in the onion and garlic and such that are common south of the border, because I wanted the kids to eat it. And I wanted to be able to tell what, if anything, the extra step adds to the final flavor. I was rather disappointed. Maybe I should have toasted it a bit longer... but it didn't seem worth the effort. Luckily, I could reuse the pan for the saucy bits.

Saucy Bits
Sauté half an onion, sliced thinly, in about a tablespoon of bacon fat. Add three crushed garlic cloves, stirring quickly to prevent burning, and then pour in about a cup of chopped tomatoes. Add more tomatoes, if needed, to make a pretty thick sauce. Plop in a small dried pepper (I think mine are chipotle, but they weren't labeled at the store.) Cook for a while, adding more tomato or a splash of wine. Add salt to taste.

Pork loin strips, a flambé


The Grill Geek made a quick rub for the loin strips (I've never seen this cut of pork before... very fatty, hence the leaping flames) consisting of equal parts cumin and salt. Then he grilled 'em and chopped them into bite-size pieces. We piled the pieces on top of rice with sauce, added a little marinated lettuce for crunch, and served it up with toasted (toaster ovens are a godsend) and guacamole.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Beltane and Betting


Today is the Kentucky Derby, and I married a Kentucky boy, so it's bigger than most holidays. For the first time ever (for me), we've got actual money on a few of the horses. I used my hubby's traditional method for selecting the winner... "which name would look best on a Derby glass?" He used statistics, records, and winning percentages. Ha! We'll see who does best. Anyway, back to food... the Grill Geek feasted on toast with fried eggs, bacon, and hollandaise sauce for breakfast. I had toast with almond butter topped with dried cranberries. (It was a busy morning for me and I have a chest cold...)

After such an insufficient start to the day for a hobbit, I was naturally half-dead by noon. Our official Derby Day lunch is Kentucky Hot Browns. My allergies prevent me from following the original recipe. Oh, well, I'm getting used to getting creative. I tried one slice of Ener-G Foods tapioca bread and one slice Food For Life white rice bread, to see which was best. I vote for the tapioca bread... better texture... neither contributes flavor here. Deli turkey, fresh tomato, and bacon were straight-forward. (I hope... I realize now that the Grill Geek probably doesn't realize that deli turkey has ingredients.) And then... the sauce. Heh. I was going to go ahead and find out whether cooked goat milk is ok for me. Because sometimes, for some people, that actually makes a difference. I found a simplified recipe that I planned to follow.

But I forgot to scale back the butter portion for just two servings. I thought that wouldn't cause a problem. Because I have almost no experience with white sauces, so I'm a complete idiot.
I started very slowly adding the milk, as instructed, and the whole thing seized up. "Curdled" isn't quite the right word, but... funkified, separated, and glop don't net many google results. I looked for ways to save the sauce, finally decided it couldn't be done, and used some leftover hollandaise instead.

It was much too tart... but I still ate every morsel.

Dinner was a sad affair, due to what happened right after the Derby... we were cheering for Eight Belles and our hearts (especially the Fairy Child's) were broken. It was delicious, though.

Grassfed rib steak, Sidedish (with local yellow squash), corn on the cob, and a chopped tomato.



Last night was our Beltane feast. Food is still the main way we celebrate anything, so despite not feeling well, I was determined to make some sort of seasonal/symbolic meal.
Grilled rum-buttered shrimp (grilled for the fire element, can't have a real bonfire with kids around), asparagus (cuz... well... it's shape), fresh spring greens (because it's spring), and fresh, local zucchini (because we had it). The kids also had strawberries because berries are a spring thing and red is the color for Beltane. I had to abstain, as I seem to be sensitive to all but the local strawberries, and I didn't get any in our Greenling box this week.




This was Thursday night's dinner... local pork sausage, Italian style. Yum. I recently had some fancy French sausage made with duck and pork, almost twice as expensive, and it tasted almost exactly like this. I think I'll just buy local from now on. :-)

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.