What WOULD Bekki Eat?
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.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Somehow, the world spun on. Not sure how.
This week there were coupons, but we went to the zoo and it took me a while to recover from that enough to care about the paper. I never know how many things in the coupon section will piss me off, so I have to be well-rested and calm in case it's an epic week. Don't want to die from a ranty coronary.
This week's rant has little to do with food. It has to do with cleaning up after making food. Something that I guess gets a bit drudgerous. Drudgersome? Hmmm... I guess neither of those is a real word. Moving on...
Cooking real food can make a real mess. But, generally nothing permanent. Nothing in need of "microbeads" that magically target "stuck-on food." What the hell is up with that? Are these more of the amazing nanites at work? I don't think so. But Palmolive claims it's new Scrub Buster with MicroBeads will do just that. That horrible, terrible stuck-on food will be a thing of the past.
Why was it even a problem? All it takes to "bust thru stuck-on food" is patience. Fill the pan with soapy water and wait.
That's all it takes. If you start off with really hot water, and wait until it's cool enough to touch, a mild effort with a sponge will get your dish clean.
If you have a rare case of truly stuck-on burnt greasy stuff, dust it with baking soda, add a sprinkle of water, and wait. There's that pesky patience thing again. Do it during a commercial break and by the next one you'll have a wipe-off clean pan.
It's not rocket science and it doesn't require any stupid micro beads.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
And naturally... I didn't really follow the recipe. I seem to be cellularly incapable of such things. Which is just as well, since the recipe came from a cookbook and is probably copyrighted. So... I'll post what I actually did, since (so far) that is not. Copyrighted. Hope y'all are following me here, but sometimes I'm not sure, so I wanted to be clear. Ok... less conversation, more action, here's the recipe.
Make some rice. I like jasmine, in a rice cooker, with about half the liquid being chicken stock and the rest water. Well, I really like the rest being coconut milk, but that's not an option right now. And I'm still pouting about it.
So... get your rice going, however you like to do that. About 20 minutes before it's ready (my rice cooker takes a looooong time, but it's worth it, because then it keeps it warm and ready for however long I need. Plus, it has fuzzy logic and I don't have any logic at all, so I can't make rice worth a damn.)
Now... start chopping:
1/2 onion, sliced fairly thin
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced into bite-size pieces
2-3 cloves garlic, sliced
2-3 green onions (if they're big honkin' ones like I got this week, if teeny, maybe 5 or 6)- slice the relevant parts into thin circles
1 tomato (I used the approximate equivalent in canned, boxed really, since I try to not use cans anymore.)
You'll also need:
3 tablespoons oil (I used 1 each of bacon fat, palm oil, and ghee... I'm weird.)
1 heaping teaspoon (not the actual measury kind, I used a regular small spoon) green curry paste. The recipe called for red, but I didn't have any. So I used green. And I added another spoonful of red chile paste that I happened to have on hand. It's rather mild. Curry tastes faboo, so just chile paste won't replace it. I'll shut up and move on now...
about 1/4 cup sake or vermouth or white wine or chicken stock. I'm flexible.
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice (who really measures that sort of thing??)
1 tablespoon cilantro leaves (or parsley if that's all you've got, not really the same, but it'll do.)
1/2 pound smallish raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, all that jazz
couple handfuls raw baby spinach
Tamari or regular soy sauce, to taste
Heat oil in a LARGE pan and saute onion and bell pepper a few minutes, until beginning to soften. Add garlic and cook another minute, stirring often. Stir in curry paste and chile paste and craft paste (just seeing if you're paying attention) and cook another minute. Add sake and wait until about half of it boils off. Sort of scrape the veggies to one side, or the outside, of the pan and toss in the shrimp. Cook a couple of minutes, depends on the size of your shrimp. Add tomatoes and green onions. Stir (duh!) Add the spinach and really flip things over so the spinach gets on the bottom... so it can wilt. Season with fish sauce, lime juice, parsley, and tamari. Once the spinach is wilty, serve over rice. Or over easy. I don't care. It goes nicely with Gruet Blanc de Noirs (sham-pagne) which goes much-too-well with pomegranate juice. (Forget the fussy seeds or any recipes that bother with orange curacao. Juice + bubbly = joy.)
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Tonight it was fajita salad. Fresh, local (Bibb, I think??) lettuce, dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, and salt, topped with shredded green (local, once again) cabbage that was dressed with white vinegar, agave, and salt, then some sliced avocado with lime juice, the grilled steak, and then grilled onions, red bell pepper, and some sort of hot green pepper. Those were tossed with bacon fat after slicing and prior to grilling.
It was, of COURSE, delicious. Oh... and that's a grilled zucchini at the bottom there. It was good, too.
Last night I forgot to post... we had stir-fry... it was yummy, but not all that special.
It was leftover grilled steak, from Naughty Friday, with onions, a mix of lemongrass (one stalk, finely-minced), ginger (small bit grated with a micro-plane) and 2 cloves minced garlic, tamari, fish sauce, and chicken stock. I tossed in some spinach at the very end, to wilt. And we served it over rice.
If anyone wants an actual recipe... just ask. I think I'll remember what I loosely based it upon.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
I've spent too long already getting distracted from posting this. So, without further attempt at wit... some before and after pics, with necessary description.
To the right, a sort of Sidedish, but with leeks, to be fancy. And because we got them in our weekly Greenling delivery.
Appetizers: Spicy Pecans, olives, cute little gummy berries
Bacon Wrapped Asparagus
That potato-and-leek thing
Grilled lamb chops
And, because they were so itty bitty, grilled pork chops as well.
Dessert was Even More Candy
silky, and the bacon-wrapped asparagus is now on my menu for Last Meal Ever. And I barely did any work at all, because I made the Grill-Geek cook it outside. Fabulous.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Oops. I forgot to take a picture. This is what was left from our Naughty Friday decadence.
In case you haven't figured it out by now, we are not a religious family. So we... well... tend to taunt on holy days. What can I say? We're pirates. On Good Friday, which I understand is commonly a day of fasting and flagellation, we feasted on gigantic steaks, bacon-wrapped grilled potatoes, and dressed cucumbers, with full glasses of wine. That's the kind of people we are.
I did manage to flagellate myself a little bit, while walking through part of the neighbor's yard... they have stickers (prickers, whatever you call them) and I got an entire foot-full. Whee. I'll have more wine and forget about it.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
I started the day with chocolate pancakes. I won't share the recipe. They were terrible. Any time you can make a chocolate pancake... chocolate... and neither kid will eat more than one, you know it's time to throw out your aprons and flours and condemn yourself to storebought waffles.
Lunch was just munchies... ham, nuts, and oodles of berries. None of them local or organic... so sue me. I was trying for a teachable moment with the Fairy Child, where I could tell her about the Way Things Were before electricity and refrigeration and getting everything we want from Chile during our winter. Instead she grabbed her berries and ate lunch in front of her computer.
So, dinner was grilled salmon, rice (and I'm still bitter about it not being coconut rice... it just tastes so flat when it's plain), and a big salad of fresh local greens.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
So, it was dinner time, I whipped out my cookbook binder, flipped to the recipe, and... uh, oh... I don't have half those ingredients.
Time to get creative.
It worked out well, and was even quite pretty to look at. Many a famous chef has implored the masses to remember that "we eat first with our eyes" so I'm glad it was pretty. I spend at least 10 seconds actually giving a crap about what dinner looks like (before sibling squabbling, growling guts, and setting the table take precedence)... so those were 10 happy seconds tonight.
Vaguely Mexican Chicken Skillet
1-2 tablespoons bacon fat
1/2 onion, sliced thin
2 strips already-cooked bacon, chopped
about 1/2 cup canned roasted red bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
about 1/2 cup salsa
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon spicy smoked paprika (or regular, but smoky is goooood)
1/2 cup or so chicken broth
1 - 2 cups cooked chicken, chopped or shredded
about half a jar marinated artichoke hearts
1/3 cup frozen corn kernels
2 handfuls baby spinach
If you want to serve it atop pasta (I'm thinking shells or rotini... to help grab the sauce), start the water boiling.
Cook the onion and bacon in bacon fat until the onion is very soft. Toss in the garlic, peppers, salsa, spices... stir. Add some chicken broth until it looks a bit saucy. Toss in the chicken and artichoke hearts. Put a lid on and reduce the heat a bit.
When the pasta is almost done, throw in the corn and stir. Add the spinach and DON'T stir... it'll steam on top of the other stuff, if you put the lid on. So... um... put the lid on. Dinner will be ready in just 2 or 3 minutes.
Oh, and in case you clicked on the menu mailer link above and thought "hey, that's a great idea, I want to get that"... don't. Well, it's your life, do whatever you want. But I highly recommend getting this one instead. It has much healthier food. And, no, I don't mean low-fat, low-flavor. I mean healthy.
Monday, March 17, 2008
We did not dye our beer green, but we did eat green food for lunch.
Green salad with shamrock-looking kohlrabi sprouts, celery, greenish dip for said celery (put parsley in it) and green olives. We aren't rabbits, though, so we needed something more, and it wasn't really green. It was, however, Irish-ish.
Salmon patties. With dill and fresh parsley... for green.
Then dinner was more classic...
Roast leg of lamb (not the entire leg... we're a small family), potatoes, onions, and garlic roasted in the lamb drippings, braised cabbage and leeks with butter and lemon, and gluten-free soda bread. The lamb looks pretty much raw in this shot, and it wasn't. I took it's temperature and everything, it was supposedly medium-rare. It was definitely delicious. I think the soda bread stole the show, though, it was beyond fabulous. The sorghum flour I ordered wasn't here yet, so I used amaranth instead. And, thanks to experience and knowledge about what I don't like, I used a very scant one TEAspoon of caraway, instead of a tablespoon. Oh, and she cooks at high altitude. My bread was done more than 5 minutes early.
"Contact dermatitis to coconut is more common than food allergy." So sayeth half a zillion websites. I have no skin reaction... just all my usual food allergy reactions.
I will post some more recent recipes and such later. I'm too pissed off right now.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Today is also a rather chilly day, so I thought chili would be nice. Even though this is my own recipe, I never manage to follow it. This time I added an Anaheim chile, didn't use all those tomatoes (just one big can of diced and a smallish box of crushed), and I left out the cinnamon stick. Because I don't have any. I'll include an "after" photo once it's actually served.
2 lbs ground chuck
1-2 onions, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
large handful sliced fresh mushrooms
Pour into crock pot:
2 cans Ro-Tel tomatoes (mild or regular)
1 can petite-diced tomatoes
1 can plain tomato sauce (full size)
1 can frijoles negro
2 T chili powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cilantro
4 dashes cayenne (or 1/4 tsp spicy smoked paprika, if you have it)
1 T cocoa powder
1 cinnamon stick
Start in the morning, ready by dinner. Start after lunch, might need to put it on "high." It's flexible.
There it is. Chili. With tortilla chips, to make it pretty. The Little Guy's hand is in the background, adding chips to the guacamole. He then inhaled the guacamole and demanded more. Like his mama, he's Mexican at heart.
The Grill Geek volunteered for an impromptu Iron Chef Grill.
Basting with an Asian-inspired sauce. He has no idea how to recreate the deliciousness... he didn't write down how much he used of anything. Worcestershire, tamari... vermouth instead of sake... probably some other stuff.
Gratuitous gazebo shot. No point here. Just showing off. This is the good life... sunny day, light breeze, a margarita on the outdoor bar, big chunks of beefiness on the grill... yeah.
The result: short ribs on rice, a salad with lemon vinaigrette, and grilled Brussels sprouts (with onions and garlic, done in a foil pack). The Grill Geek wasn't very pleased with the result- too tough and chewy. It was a lot of work to eat, but it was delicious. Even our finicky Fairy Child gobbled some up. I think we'll stick to low and slow for short ribs in the future, though.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
One of the unexpected parts of getting a weekly box of local produce is... sometimes I have no idea what things are. We get to play Guess That Vegetable. Sometimes it's a question of whether some little red thing is a baby beet or a radish... or perhaps a baby turnip or a radish. After all, many of the veggies aren't grocery-store varieties. They are, perhaps, heirloom versions, or simply varieties chosen for their ability to grow well in South Texas.
The most-perplexing for me is the Guess That Green Thing. Sometimes I can't even tell whether something should be served as a salad or braised like collards. So... I nibble it. If it's bitter, braise it. If it's bitter and tough, braise it a long time. Bitter and tender? Braise it quick.
So, here I had salad-looking greens that were INCREDIBLY sour/bitter. I had no idea what they were, but... thanks to kids being kids... no time to try to figure it out. I braised. They were still bitter, but strangely were improved by some lemon juice. You'd think MORE bitter/sour wouldn't help. Well, that's what I thought anyway. But I was wrong!
Yesterday I was confronted with more mysterious greens... they looked like a combination between bok choy and collards. Strange... decided to cook them like collards, after consulting this handy site and deciding they were probably just a variation of collard greens. From that same site I deduced that last night's mystery was sorrel. That explains the sourness. After these been cooking a while I gave 'em a taste.
The mysterious greens... that finally prompted me to search online for a Guide to Greens were plain ol' boring spinach.
And I don't like spinach. I confirmed that last night. The rest of dinner made up for it- roasted turnips and crispy-salty-skinned chicken. The chicken caused a lot of frustration by not cooking fast enough, so I completely forgot to take pictures. Sorry.
Roast turnips are very easy, by the way... cut up somewhat small and toss with oil and salt. Then, depending on what else you've got in the oven, roast at 375 to 450 degrees for 15-30 minutes. It's hard to mess 'em up.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Kyo no tema... tai!
Whole red snapper. Way back when I was looking up inspiration for my own Iron Chef Shark night, I happened across many recipes involving whole fish, stuffed with something, and grilled. I salivated. I hungered. I longed. So, naturally, I decided then and there that the Grill Geek's first ingredient ought to be a whole fish. And promptly couldn't find any.
We also managed to hammer out another rule of Iron Chef Grill with this installment. Unlike Iron Chef Mom, where nothing but the already-present contents of fridge, freezer, and pantry may be used (no trips to the store for ingredients), grilling is all about last minute jaunts for _____ and beer. So, the Grill Geek ran out for crab, shrimp, and beer. I think it's a fitting rule.
We still have a lot of rule-making to do for the Grill version.
3 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup celery, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 ounces cooked shrimp
4 ounces cooked crabmeat
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
To Make Stuffing: Melt 2 tablespoons butter or margarine in a skillet. Add the bread crumbs. Saute and stir the mixture over medium-high heat till the bread crumbs are browned. Remove the bread crumbs to a mixing bowl.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter or margarine in the skillet and sauté the onions, celery and garlic until tender; add to bread crumbs in mixing bowl, then stir in shrimp, crab, parsley, salt and pepper and toss gently.
Cram this stuff inside le' poisson. Grill 20-25 minutes, or until flaky.
I wish I'd remembered to take a "before shot."
It was delicious!
Salmon salad on... well... salad. Not glamorous, but it is tasty.
Grilled steak, collards (with turnip and beet tops), and roasted turnips and beets. INCREDIBLY good. For whatever wordy reason, I have always associated beets and turnips with old people, because my grandparents ate them. Guess what... they're actually really yummy!
Hard to see, but... grilled round steak, fajita-style, grilled red peppers, poblano, and onions, with a bit of salsa verde on warmed corn tortillas. To the left are some "dressed cucumbers" (MIL's recipe) and to the right are some rewarmed borracho beans.
Thinly-sliced onion, bell pepper (if you want), and cucumber
1/2 cup vinegar (white, but I like to add a generous splash of raw apple cider vinegar)
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar (MIL says 2, that's too sweet for me)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Put the veggies in a quart canning jar, pour liquid over, screw on the lid and shake. Keeps in the fridge for a few days (cukes get soggy after a bit), and you can re-use the juicy bit by just tossing in more veggies.
Because the whole foodie blogosphere seems to be talking about polenta these days, I wanted to join with the cool kids and do it, too. This is polenta... prepared, cooled, sliced, and broiled, then topped with marinara, meatballs, and kalamata olives. Pretty tasty. I have tried toasting/broiling polenta three times now, attempting to get it crispy and such like I've read can happen. It hasn't happened for me yet. I still have hope. It's a nice alternative to brown rice pasta.
Smoked pork (Grill Geek thinks it was a shoulder, bone-in), collards, dressed cukes, and raw carrot & celery sticks. Not pictured: quickie dip for raw veggies, consisting of mayo and balsamic vinegar, with a bit of salt and pepper. Om nom nom!
Sunday, March 9, 2008
I'm suffering from a terrible case of pity-party, with a hefty dose of "meh."
I also suffer from a decent understanding of the rules governing the English language, American flavor. And today's coupons finally broke me out of my meh-rut enough to bitch to the faceless masses about it.
Cheerios Snack Mix... "Good Source of WHOLE GRAIN."
Are they seriously advertising the presence of ONE whole grain in the product?
Or are they simply using the newest buzzword, incorrectly?
I personally think grains are NOT an important part of anyone's diet, except as a way to avoid outright starvation. That's the role they've played in most of human history... famine foods. But then the idea caught on and here we are today, eating worse than most of our pets (meaning, not species-appropriate) and getting sicker and sicker. But if we are going to go along with the idea that whole grains are at least better than refined grains, at least use proper grammar when advertising it!!
Whole grainS. Please. Really. Unless, of course, it's true that there's just one in the box.
Speaking of getting sicker and sicker... I'd like proper grammar applied to new epidemics as well. I have seen this so many times, I can't recall where. But trusted, intelligent, college-educated sources have been guilty. Maybe I'm wrong and this is actually correct... please let me know if that's the case. But it sounds stupid, which is generally my clue that something is wrong. "Obesity and overweight among our country's youth is a growing and troubling problem." Shouldn't it be overweightness or, better yet, being overweight? It just sounds wrong. Jane doesn't suffer from asthma and overweight. Jane suffers from asthma and being overweight. Doesn't that sound better? Overweight isn't a noun.
Before I go, I have to also comment on the ad for Promised Land brand "milk." (Sorry... I can't leave off the quotes, because the reconstituted, homogenized, pasteurized pus-filled crap doesn't deserve to share a name with nourishing, life-giving real milk.) They say they have no artificial hormones, and that their products are "The Way Milk Used to Taste."
Because, um... added hormones have a flavor?
And, the ad shows that it comes in three varieties: reduced fat, strawberry, and chocolate. Oh, yeah, that's the way milk has tasted for centuries....
I wish I had an emoticon here, rolling it's little eyes.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Tonight I tried to make this.
Ratatouille on polenta, with baby greens. I've been wanting to try ratatouille. And I've been wanting to get more creative with polenta. I had baby spinach. It was perfect.
Except... I don't like eggplant, so I left it out, I do like zucchini, so I chopped some up, and I felt lazy, so I left out the olives. Oh, and I'm having issues with canned tomatoes- concerns about the BPA in the lining- so I used jarred pasta sauce instead. And I added meatballs, because I'm an unapologetic carnivore. (Don't bother, I know the correct term is omnivore, I simply like baiting vegetarians. I like the impact of saying carnivore.)
So, basically, I completely changed the recipe.
And more-importantly, I burned the ever-livin-crap out of my hand.
You see... I've never put a skillet in the oven before. Just haven't needed to.
Tonight's recipe could just as easily been put into a different pan first, but... the recipe said to put the skillet in the oven. Despite my misgivings, I did. I knew I would forget and grab the handle. And, shockingly, I did.
I'm also having computer issues, so... I'll post a pic later. Nothing turned out the way I thought it would and I doubt I'll make this again. The greens didn't wilt from the heat of the food. The polenta didn't achieve the solidness I had been led to expect. The ratatouille was much too sweet, I guess due to the storebought sauce.
Monday, March 3, 2008
You might notice that this is incredibly similar to a great many dishes designed by coastal people. Oh, well. There's a reason for the popularity- it's fabulous and easy.
The "recipe" for Low Country Boil:
Bring a big ol' pot of water (with 1/4 cup Old Bay added) to a roiling boil.
Plop in (ok, don't plop, boiling water hurts) about 2 pounds small red potatoes.
10 minutes later, add halved ears of corn (however many y'all want to eat) and about 2 pounds of sausage (smoked, kielbasa, summer, whatever), chopped into 1 1/2-inch lengths.
10 minutes later, or when the potatoes are tender, add about a pound of big, fresh shrimp, shells on. Cook a few minutes, until they curl up.
Serve on a big ol' platter, or to be more-authentic, on butcher paper or paper grocery bags. Forks and plates need not apply. Make sure you've got plenty of napkins, and some butter, salt, Old Bay, and cocktail sauce.
Oh, and quantities can easily vary. We pretty much ignore the potatoes, but our picky kid turns carnivore for sausage, so we put in extra.
Sunday, March 2, 2008
Anyway, enough about grills and more about gills. I chose marlin steaks as his secret ingredient. The man behind the counter said they were well-suited for grilling, and I'd never had them before. That makes for a perfect Iron Chef Grill ingredient!
The menu, as he wrote it:
Wine: Frei Brothers Chardonnay, 2005
Entrée: Grilled Naigiri steak with lime butter
Side 1: Lemon Salsa
Side 2: Sautéed Mushrooms and Onion
Side 3: Jasmine Rice
Dessert: Grilled Grapefruit
Mix first four ingredients, cook over medium-low heat. Stir once. After 5 minutes, pour wine in and stir. Cook for another 5-7 minutes, or until onions are turning translucent, stirring once or twice more.
Grilled Naigiri with Lime Rum Butter
2 Nairagi (marling) steaks (about ½ lb. each), skin removed
2 slices bacon
1/3 cup butter
1 medium-size clove garlic, minced or pressed
Juice of 1 lime
1 shot Sailor Jerry's Spiced Navy Rum
Skin fish, wrap bacon along edge, securing with toothpick. Melt butter, mix in lime juice, rum and garlic.
Grill fish for 5 min per side, basting with lime butter.
1 lemon, diced
½ tsp. capers, rinsed
3 green onions, chopped
4 shakes dried parsley
1 tsp sea salt
cracked black pepper to taste
¼ cup red wine
Mix all, squeeze lemon peel over mixture, stir.
2 tbsp. agave nectar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Mix nectar and cinnamon, cut grapefruit into ¾ inch rounds, 2 minutes and flip until lightly caramelized.
Grill Maestro in action. I love how the smoke shows up in this shot. I can almost smell it!
There it is, in all it's delicious glory. Bacon-wrapped (total pandering to the judge!) marlin, topped with delicious lemon salsa, coconut rice smothered in wine-soaked mushrooms and onions, and the fabulous, out-of-this-world incredible grilled grapefruit. Everything was so good... once again, I was making noises while eating. I can't help it.
And sunshine. We've had some gorgeous weather and I had to be out in it... and it's hard to see the laptop screen out there, so... the laptop sat indoors. Ignored. Poor thing. Maybe that's why it was cranky.
Anyway... to catch up...
Coconut custards with blueberries
Meatloaf, steamed green beans, slow-baked potato
Breakfast taco with salsa verde and micro greens
- 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.