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.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I've never cooked with fennel before... but it showed up in my local box, soooo... here we go. It's like Iron Chef, which is one of the reasons I haven't formally played Iron Chef Mom recently. Don't get me wrong... I really enjoy the challenge (generally only a 2 on a scale of 1-10) of framing meals around what's in season. But sometimes items in my box grate against what I think I like/don't like. Notice the word "think" in there? Yeah... I grew up in the Midwest, a fairly finicky kid, lived off mac & cheese in my college years, and rarely ate a veggie beyond iceberg salad and green beans.

And look at me now! I was leery after smelling the fennel... so foreign, so unfamiliar. How on earth would this work with fish? Fabulously, that's how.

Braised Halibut Provençal


  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil + 1 T butter

  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed

  • ¼ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

  • 4 leeks, washed well and sliced

  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped

  • 1 cup or so pureed tomatoes*

  • ¼ cup vermouth or dry white wine

  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

  • 1 tablespoon or so fresh herbs (I used basil and thyme)

  • 1 lb halibut, cut into smallish pieces

  • salt and black pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a deep oven-proof skillet over medium heat, and sauté the garlic and red pepper flakes for 1 minute. Add the leeks and fennel; cook for 5 minutes.

Add the wine and then the pureed tomatoes, letting the wine sizzle off a bit first. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes until fennel is tender and liquid is slightly reduced. Remove from heat and stir in the olives and herbs.

Season the halibut with salt and pepper, and then arrange over hot tomato mixture in skillet. Bake in preheated oven for 17-20 minutes, until fish is cooked through. Serve over rice or couscous.

I had the Grill Geek do up some zucchini as well, simply because it needed to get eaten. Turns out to have been a wonderful, delicious match. The char on the zukes just really enhanced and danced along with the party of flavors in the fish dish.

* I confess to not measuring at all. I had a jar of leftover tomatoes and I simply used "the rest" of the vermouth (my favorite white wine to cook with). If you measure and it looks like you need more liquid, add more.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Havana Goulash?

Sounds strange, no?

Well... the whole thing got started with mint. I still get a weekly box of local vegetation from Greenling, and one of the things this last week was mint. The first thing I did was make minted simple syrup, in preparation for this weekend's Kentucky Derby. I need to be able to make easy Mint Juleps. But that only used half the mint. So... I decided to finally try the super-popular mojito. But the weather and menu were against me. Rain and clouds and pot roast (which was INCREDIBLE, sorry, I didn't even bother to take a picture) just don't go with mojitos.

Tonight was finally right. The sun was shining, the mojito was tasty, and I devised a way to throw a Cuban twist on dinner. I used some leftover roast (that I stuck in the fridge in all the leftover brothy goodness, which gelled... om nom nom) and basically made a quickie Ropa Vieja. Since we had rice last night, I decided to have pasta tonight (kids don't like food in their food, so goulash is right out, they'll stick with plain pasta, thanks.) I know it has a decidedly Rachel Ray flair... not very authentic... but it was plate-licking good.

And, no, I'm not kidding. I licked.

What created this fabulousity?

1/2 onion, sliced
1 jalapeno, sliced
1 tablespoon lard/bacon fat/whatever
However much leftover roast beast for two
about a cup of leftover roast juicy goodness
about a cup of pureed tomato
1 dried, smoky chipotle pepper
1/2 tsp oregano
salt, to taste
1/2 cup fresh peas

Cook onion and jalepeno in fat until soft, add meat, juicy goodness, and tomato puree. Stir. Plop the pepper in a brothy part of the pan, sprinkle on oregano and salt, and simmer until the pasta is done. When there's just a few minutes left, stir in the peas, slap a lid on it, and turn off the heat. Remove the chipotle (unless it's somehow soft enough to mash up and stir in, although taste first... it adds a LOT of flavor!) Put on pasta.

Don't forget to lick your plate!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Grilled Pork Chops

Heavenly... grilled pork chops, braised chard with onions, and crispy-fabulous bacon-wrapped leeks. The one on the right was out-of-this-world good.

We've finally hammered out the best way to do the leeks. Cut any huge ones in half lengthwise (have to anyway, to get 'em clean), wrap with one strip of bacon apiece, and wrap individually in heavy duty foil, like little tootsie rolls.
Grill about ten minutes over high heat, flip over, grill about 10 more minutes. Kinda depends on individual grills, I suppose, and the size of your leeks.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Oven Carolina Chicken

We really ought to name this chicken dish after our friend Heidi, as it was accidentally-created because she was coming over for dinner. I was planning to "do something with" a recipe called Crockpot Thai Chicken, or something like that. But... having a needy baby all over me... had failed to figure out exactly what. And then it was too-late for the crockpot and Heidi was coming over. The Grill Geek offered to step in, and this is what he created. We named it Oven Carolina Chicken because... well... it was cooked in the oven and we lived in South Carolina.


6 skinless chicken thighs*
½ cup regular salsa
¼ cup salsa verde
1 T soy sauce
2 tsp crushed garlic
2 T lime juice
¼ tsp ground ginger
4 tsp cilantro
1 tsp parsley
some white wine

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put chicken in a casserole dish and mix remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over chicken. Cover with foil and poke some holes with a fork. Bake for about an hour, if bone-in.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS: Serve with steamed broccoli and rice- pour saucy stuff over rice.

* Recipe note... I almost-never advocate skinless chicken, but in this case... if you are a "texture person" you'll really not like the steamed/boiled skin, and removing it afterward would remove some of the sauce, so... just take it off before baking.

We had roasted beets with it, instead of rice, and I really missed the extra saucy stuff.

Last night we had grilled half-ceviche salmon...

The slab of salmon I had to work with on ceviche night was more than we could possibly eat. And I wasn't sure how long ceviche stays fresh in the fridge or if it's maybe not so great leftover. So... I pulled half of it out of the cevichey-juice after just an hour and set it aside for another night. Had the Grill Geek slap it on the grill, skin-side-only (I put it flesh-side down in the ceviche). More bacon-wrapped leeks were attempted (there's a learning-curve here), and we had some asparagus, so that got grilled, too. I swear I can't eat asparagus cooked indoors anymore. It just... pales in comparison. Maybe if it were broiled...

And recently we had this: grilled flank steak and stir-fried veggies. But I forgot to blog about it. It was really, really tasty, and I didn't want it's feelings to get hurt. So, here it is.

I simply marinated the steak in a bit of olive oil, lime juice, tamari, ginger, and garlic. Then the Grill Geek slapped it on the grill, saving (and boiling) the marinade. I stir-fried some veggies, made rice, and poured the marinade-now-sauce over everything.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Lamb Stuffed Peppers

I wanted something to do with ground lamb... not burgers, not meatloaf... something that felt more like warm-weather food. I think we hit 90 today, so meatloaf just isn't... it isn't right.

That said, the stuffed peppers take a whole hour in the oven, so really not that different from meatloaf. But, the recipe I found called them "tropical" and, well... I admit to being easily swayed. Stick an umbrella in something and I instantly must have it. I know me.

I love it when a meal comes together... when the things in the fridge magically match the mood and the recipes that I accidentally trip over online. Because that's what it is... accident. Well, perhaps serendipity. I am not a skilled googler, and especially when trawling through the thousands and thousands of possibilities netted from "ground lamb recipe." Very vague. Tonight it worked. I had a couple of red bell peppers languishing in the crisper (snatched up several at 79-cents per pound, and I never bother with green peppers... they aren't ripe and are nutritionally-devoid.) I had the lamb. I happened to have a pint of leftover crushed tomatoes. I saw the word "tropical." It was perfect.

1 pound ground lamb
2 red bell peppers (mine were huge, you'll want more if they're small)
3 tablespoons butter/bacon fat
1/2 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut off the tops of the peppers and scoop out the seeds. (I cut mine lengthwise because they were really long and skinny.)
Heat the butter/bacon fat and brown the onion the onion lightly. Add the lamb, garlic, and all the rest. Simmer 5-8 minutes, until the lamb is pretty-much cooked.
Fill the peppers with the lamb mixture and put in a baking dish. You want a bit of space around them, for the sauce. Pour the sauce in, and if you have a bit extra like I did, put some on top of the peppers. Why not? Looks pretty.
Bake for about an hour, until the peppers are soft. Check on them every now and then, to make sure they aren't drying out.

The sauce: (I totally made this up, so it's vague)
about 1/4 onion, finely chopped and browned in ghee (or butter, oil, whatever)
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 knob (inch or so) ginger, grated (works fab to use frozen, peeled ginger on a microplane grater)
About 2 cups crushed/diced tomatoes
Salt and paprika, to taste

Combine. Simmer a bit to meld flavors.

It ended up being a lot less spicy than I expected, but I used yellow curry powder instead of red. I highly suggest kicking it up a notch or two, with garlic Tabasco or whatever spicy goodness you prefer.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Allergic to sorghum?!

SORGHUM allergy? Are you kidding me?!?!

I should have known... because I bought it in bulk. Anything I buy in large quantity, whether or not I use a whole lot of it, I become allergic to. Just to piss me off.

I could have written most of this post.

This really isn't fun anymore. I do NOT want to rotate foods. I do NOT want to think about this allergy shit anymore. I just want to EAT!!!!

I made really yummy molasses cookies this afternoon, and the resulting clogged ears, exhaustion, and brain fog helped me figure out that I am, indeed, allergic to sorghum. Or maybe it's the fucking baking soda. I don't know anymore.

I love food. But it doesn't love me.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Quickie Supper

We went to the Farmer's Market today... and despite living in a large city, this was an errand on the level of "expedition." First of all, it was in another city, an hour away. Secondly, I had completely forgotten that Earth Day was coming up, and that it might be celebrated more-conveniently by some today... right next to the Farmer's Market. Thirdly, we have kids. 'Nuff said.

I had pulled a flank steak out of the deep freeze yesterday, to "do something with" for dinner today. Yeah... never good to leave it so vague. By the time we got home, got things put away, and caught our breath, it was too late to start the necessary marinating for a chewable flank steak. Oops.
And with all my food allergies, just ordering pizza isn't an option.
The kids both had a light lunch and really needed something that would stick to their ribs... some protein. What on earth do I do?

I thawed some sausages (in hot water in the sink), made some rice, and threw together a salad.

Turned out to be one of the best dinners I've had in a while. And we eat good 'round here.

The sausages were duck, pork, and fig... French-style if not actually French. We love these... they are fabulous beyond reason. I first got some at Exotic Meats (which is local for us), but bought some on sale through a website . The Grill Geek grilled them... took about twenty minutes, during which time I tossed together a salad. I've mentioned before that we get local produce delivered every week, thanks to Greenling. Well, one of the lovely surprises this week was pea tendrils. I think they are simply the young shoots of the pea plant (cut off in it's prime, poor thing). They taste like... well... peas. Quite possibly the best salad I've ever had, which really isn't saying much, because I'm generally a very lazy salad-maker.

Pea Tendril & Spinach Salad with shiitakes and bacon

1/4-lb bacon
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 lb fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps quartered
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon coarse-grain mustard
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 oz fresh pea shoots
4 oz baby spinach leaves
1 bunch fresh chives, cut into 1-inch lengths
6 radishes, cut into matchsticks

Cut bacon into 3/4-inch-thick matchsticks and cook in a heavy skillet over moderately low heat, stirring, until crisp but still chewy, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.

Pour off fat from skillet and add 1 1/2 tablespoons oil, mushrooms, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are golden, about 8 minutes, then cool.

Whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large salad bowl until blended.

Add pea shoots and spinach to dressing and toss to coat. Add bacon, mushrooms, chives, and radishes and toss again.

I used a kohlrabi instead of the radishes, and didn't have any mushrooms... so just skipped that part. I also used some red leaf lettuce instead of all spinach. I'm not a big fan of spinach. It was so, so good!

Friday, April 18, 2008

More Ceviche

With a side of blue corn chips... yum!

Salmon Ceviche


  • 1/4 teaspoon agave (a generous squirt)

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon chili paste or sauce

  • 3/4 cup fresh juices- lime, lemon, orange, grapefruit

  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed

  • 1/4 cup minced red onion (I omitted)

  • 1 ripe tomato, finely diced (I used salsa... on the side)

  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro (or 1 T dried)

  • 1 pound very fresh salmon fillets (sushi-grade), thinly sliced

  • 1 avocado, sliced


  1. In a large non-metal bowl, dissolve the agave, salt, and chili paste in the lime juice. Season with pepper and cumin. Stir in the olive oil, garlic, onion, tomato, and cilantro. Gently mix in the salmon, then cover, and refrigerate for 4 hours.

  2. To serve, drain the excess liquid from the salmon, then gently stir in the avocado slices, and allow to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Last night's dinner... which the Grill Geek graciously prepared, despite it being the last hours of the Masters golf tournament.

Grilled strip steak... Sidedish (with red bell peppers for a delicious twist), and Bacon-Wrapped Leek. One leek. It was ginormous. I had to bend it around double to fit half of it on my plate. I love the char on that potato on top of my Sidedish. Mmm, mmm, good. And, in case you were wondering, that is not iced tea in the glass. That is bourbon. It was delicious, much-needed, and the reason I didn't get around to posting this last night.

A close-up of the bacon-wrapped leek. The Grill Geek wrapped it in foil, to prevent burning and huge bacon-fat-fueled flare ups. It took longer than we expected to get "done." But... I am left speechless by the delicious divinity of this dish. I made noises while eating. Again.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Simple Chicken

Lunch today was baked chicken, and I think I'm not going to bother with roasting whole chickens anymore. This was fabulous and much faster. I didn't bother with the gravy, partly because I'm just not a gravy girl (strange, I know, since I love slathering fat on everything) and partly because it was a conventional chicken... so... most of the icky stuff (hormones, whatever) are in the fat.

Along with the chicken was a quick green salad with lemon vinaigrette, leftover roast beets, and fresh Noah's bread rolls.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Yet Another Montage

I'm having a hard time keeping up lately... and it's not because I'm eating PB&J sandwiches (or ramen... whatever is your definition of Not Cooking.) I'm here... I'm cooking... I'm being constantly called to "play ah-side, Mama, c'mon, play ah-side! Let's go!" "Ah-side" translates to "outside" for anyone that didn't catch it.
We play, we eat, we play, we eat, at no point in there do I get to sit down for more than 5 minutes.

So, here you go... the meals I've missed posting about (that were worthy of mention):

Smoked pork.
There are few things in life easier or more delicious than smoked pork. It's the Grill Geek's domain, so I know little of how it's done. But in three hours he turned a rather inexpensive chunk of meat into crusty, salty, marvelous deliciousness. Our Little Guy ate more than either of us... that's how good it was. We served it with roasted beets and biscuits. We were supposed to also serve beet greens, but... I forgot. The Little Guy woke up from a nap and... well... things got crazy.

Hamburgers, pan-fried due to a schedule-conflict with the Grill Geek. The greens I was supposed to cook the night before (kale and the greens from the beets). Oven fries and mayonnaise. No, I'm not Canadian. I just really hate ketchup.

Grilled rockfish, atop lettuce and red cabbage (dressed with vinegar and olive oil), with rice and grilled zucchini. Quite yummy.

Fajita/Taco Things. I over-crisped the tortillas, forgot we were out of lettuce, and didn't have time to make guacamole. So... I topped them with some microgreens we had from Greenling. They were good. Chewy, but good.

Lamb Sausage Ragout

Wow... that sure sounds fancy. It's surprisingly-simple, though. Start with the Fabulous Foursome (garlic, onion, celery, and carrot) and... you're more than half done.

I based it off this Emeril recipe, but (since I'm pathologically incapable of following a recipe, even my own) I made a few changes. First of all, I don't get all futzy and measure things. I used two smallish carrots, two celery stalks, and a bunch of lovely, local green onions. I had regular onions, but... wanted to use the green onions before they went bad. They were so big, too, that I figured they had plenty of oniony goodness. I only used one pound of lamb sausage, because I'm not cooking for a crowd... cooked that up in a dab of lard (hee hee... I love using lard because it's SOOO "wrong"), took it out of the pan (because I was short on space) and tossed in the veggies. When they were ready, I added 2 cups of tomato puree, about 1/4 cup of wine, 3 shakes of red pepper flakes (which was too much!) and 1/2 teaspoon thyme.

I didn't have the mushrooms, so I just put it on pasta and had the Grill Geek grill up some asparagus.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Beans and Greens, Ole!

I never make meat-less meals, and yet... tonight... I did. Weird. It wasn't vegetarian, because I used lard and chicken broth. But, there was no meat. My headache is telling me not to do this again. But... it was pretty tasty.

I had some pinto beans that needed to get cooked (I'd soaked them and put them in the freezer, then thawed them thinking I was going to do something else... they languished..) I also had a ton of greens that needed to get cooked. I love cannelini and kale, which is Italian in flavor. Would pintos and kale be good? Yes! Once the beans were soft (cooked in chicken broth), I tossed in some cumin, coriander, black pepper, and ancho chile powder. I put those brothy beans on the bottom of my bowl and topped with braised kale (cooked with onions and garlic, with a chopped tomato thrown in near the end) and sprinkled a bit of fresh cilantro over it.

Pretty darn good. I don't have a second opinion, as the kids don't that sort of mixed-together food and the Grill Geek was asleep early.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Get Yer Goat!

I am now converted... I love goat.

The Grill Geek had some sort of goat years ago, at a Jamaican restaurant. He loved it. I was a bit more leery, but... as we've been eating all sorts of weird things lately, decided we'd get some as soon as we could. On a recent trip to the farmer's market in Austin, the opportunity arose. They were out of ground meat, so we opted for steaks. They were called something else, but looked like itty bitty t-bones. I handed them over to the Grill Geek as a totally-not-surprising Iron Chef Grill ingredient.
He worked wonders.

Pandering to the judge is always welcome, so he wrapped things in bacon. The bottom left of the photo shows unidentifiable blobs that I will tell you are bacon-wrapped tomatoes . He thickly-sliced some fresh, local (greenhouse) tomatoes, wrapped them in bacon, and grilled away. They looked like a bit of a pain in the arse, but they tasted FABULOUS. Anyway, back to the rest... hot dogs at top left, "for the kids", smallish pieces of goat in the middle, fat green onions, then bigger pieces of goat.
He also grilled some asparagus (simply toss with oil and salt and it becomes pure joy.)

The joke was on us. Both children devoured every scrap of goat we were willing to toss their way. No one got enough. The hot dogs were utterly ignored. The tomatoes were melty-juicy-tart inside crisp-salty... wow. Goat tastes like buttery bambi-beef. So juicy. So meaty. So good.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Iron Chef Mom goes Hawaiian

This has to be my favorite failure ever.
I went way over on my time, thanks to not remembering to thaw my shrimp ahead of time, not delegating effectively to my sous chef, and getting too much "help" from the Little Guy. Excuses, excuses... I failed.

And that's ok. Because dinner was absolutely fabulously delicious beyond all reason. The secret ingredient was pineapple! Too fun!

The Menu:

Bacon-wrapped, rum-soaked pineapple slices

Spicy grilled shrimp

Thai stir-fried rice

Roasted pineapple and avocado salad

Tortuga Twister

Bacon Wrapped Rum-Soaked Pineapple

(does it get any better than this?)

¼ cup dark rum
1/2 pound (or so) thin cut bacon
Slices/chunks of fresh pineapple

Soak pineapple in rum, 15 minutes or so. Wrap pineapple slices with bacon and secure with a toothpick (or not... I didn't bother, probably should have). Broil in oven until bacon is browned and cooked (8 minutes each side worked for me.) It's like bacon candy. Seriously. Wow.

Spicy Grilled Shrimp

1 pound large raw shrimp, peeled

about 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
several hard shakes garlic Tabasco
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme

Marinate shrimp about 15 minutes... grill. Out of this world incredible!

Thai Stir Fried Rice and Pineapple

3/4 cup pineapple, in small chunks
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 jalapeño peppers, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro
¼ cup chopped onion
¼ cup red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
1 tablespoon tamari (soy sauce)
½ teaspoon sugar
1 cup of cold, steamed Thai jasmine rice
coriander leaves as garnish

Put the pineapple in a bowl and add the jalapeño, ginger, and cilantro, mix and set aside. Add a pinch of salt to bring out the juice. In a wok, heat about a tablespoon of oil stir and fry the bell

pepper and onion about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir quickly, until it barely begins to brown. Add the rice and stir thoroughly. Add the fish sauce and sugar and continue stirring. When the rice is heated through, add the pineapple mixture and stir until thoroughly heated through.

I didn't expect to like the sweetness of pineapple in fried rice, but it was fabulous. The two peppers were just the right amount of heat for me... which means not all that much. I'm a weenie these days.

Roasted Pineapple and Avocado Salad

The creamy avocado really works magic in this salad. Once again, I was surprised by how much I liked the sweet pineapple in a dish I traditionally enjoy savory. I think the next time I make this (and, oh yes, there will be a next time) I will add crumbled bacon. I think that roasty, salty flavor
would make it perfect.

  • About 1 cup fresh pineapple, cut into 3/4-inch chunks

  • 1/2 teaspoon light brown sugar

  • salt

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  • 1 Hass avocado, cut into 3/4-inch chunks

  • 1 head red leaf lettuce

  • Freshly ground pepper

  • Lime wedges, for serving

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a medium bowl, toss the pineapple with the brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Spread the pineapple on a baking sheet and roast in the upper third of the oven for about 10 minutes, or until softened and just beginning to brown.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the olive oil with the vinegar. Add the lettuce, season with salt and pepper, and toss. Sprinkle the avocado chunks with lime juice, to prevent browning. Transfer the salad to plates, top with the pineapple and avocado, and serve.

Tortuga Twister

1 oz white rum
1 oz Sailor Jerry (spiced rum)
1/2 oz Amaretto
1/2 oz Orange Curacao/Triple Sec
4 oz grapefruit juice, fresh-squeezed
splash of grenadine

Shake rums and amaretto with ice. Pour into a hurricane glass half filled with ice. Top with and grenadine. Garnish with a pineapple stick* and an umbrella or pirate sword. Arrrrr! (Tortuga!)

* a pineapple "stick" is merely a piece of the hard core, cut into a stick-ish shape, for garnishing goodness.

Bonus Rant

Microwave-ready steamable rice? Really? Seriously? Did I just see this in my grocery store ad?


Was Uncle Ben's Minute Rice kicking people's asses? Was boiling a pot of water too much like "actual cooking?" Did it take too long? Dirty too many actual dishes? Was it not disposable enough? Was it not something the kids could do for themselves while rocking out on iPods and texting their friends?

W. T. F.

Microwavable steam-packs of white rice.

I admit to loving my rice cooker... it simplifies the task for me, but actually takes a lot longer to cook it. I don't care. I plan ahead. If I didn't have a rice cooker I'd probably just not eat rice as often. If I was really in a pinch, I'd use minute rice. It's fast. Not really healthy, but... it comes in a biodegradable cardboard box and is really easy to make.

But that wasn't good enough for all the lazy-ass "I don't cook", call-for-pizza Americans out there, was it? Nooo....

And then, the clincher... my store (and yes, there's only one where we live, because our city hosts the company headquarters and no other chain can even get a toe in) has these "meal deals" every week. Buy one or two things, get certain other things free. This week you can "save more than $6.88" if you buy Oscar Mayer lunchmeat and Velveeta singles. (Mmm, yummy, plastic!) What wonderful things do you get for free? Crystal Light On the Go (brain tumors never tasted so good), Kraft Easy Mac Cups (I JUST CAN'T even start that rant, OMG), Jell-O Singles Instant Pudding Mix, and Miracle Whip.

Save $7, lose 7 years of your life.

I think I'll pass.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Soup, Salad, and Bread

The fridge was full of leftovers, my energy meter was low (thanks to accidental ingestion of coconut oil during lunch... in case any one is wondering, yes I am still pouting about that allergy.)
So, dinner needed to be easy. What was on the menu? "Iron Chef Mom." Nope, wasn't going to happen. Nuh-uh, save it for a better night.

Instead, leftover Leftover Leg of Lamb Stew, salad with balsamic vinaigrette, and some fresh soda bread. Not a typo, it was double-leftover stew. I saved the bone and chopped all the meat that was leftover (from Irish Heritage Day) into bite-size pieces, and stuck it in the freezer. Earlier this week, it became dinner with some onions, red potatoes, carrots, peas, and tomatoes. It seems to be a neverending soup, as we've still got some left. That leg of lamb was expensive, but... wow... it just keeps going.

I still love the soda bread. It's marvelous. This time I used traditional currants instead of raisins. Delish.

And... folks... if any of you are still buying bottled salad dressing, made with toxic canola and soy oils... I have to ask WHY?? Seriously, please leave a comment and tell me why on earth you do that to yourselves. Homemade dressing is so easy! You don't need to whisk things, you don't have to get all snooty French about it... buy some of those itty bitty Gladware containers. The ones with the blue lid that hold less than half a cup. (For what it's worth, the screw-top Ziploc containers that are a bit bigger suck. They are NOT liquid-tight!) Then you can just shake up your dressing, pour what you need on your salad, and stick the leftovers in the fridge for another day.
Here's how to make super-easy balsamic dressing:

Squirt a generous dab of Dijon mustard into your container. 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon, start with less and see how you like it.
Add 1-2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
Add a splash of apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar, to tone it down a bit, if you think that'd be good.
Add about twice as much olive oil... eyeball it... it's not rocket science.
Slap the lid on and shake it up.
Taste it. Too tart? More oil. Not tart enough? More vinegar.
Add salt and pepper, some fresh thyme or parsley if you've got it. A pinch of dried herb- any herb pretty much- is nice too.

Oh, and if you're feeling adventurous, use an egg yolk instead of mustard... but don't plan on keeping it in the fridge more than a few days.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Sort-of Ceviche

Today I decided to make ceviche for dinner. Unfortunately, it was an impulse decision, so I didn't have a chance to go shopping for all the proper ingredients. And then I lost my nerve and half-cooked it anyway. Next time I will know to make sure the fish pieces are all the same thickness. I had some bigger chunks that didn't really get... ceviched... all the way through. Since I lacked the chiles and olives and... well, pretty much all the ingredients for a traditional ceviche, I used red pepper flakes for heat and... called it good. I cooked my onions, thinly-sliced, because I can't handle raw onion, even if it's had a long citrus bath.

1 pound halibut, carefully cut into equal inch-ish pieces
1/4 cup grapefruit juice
1/4 cup lime juice (1 really juicy lime)
generous splash of vermouth
1 inch-long knob of ginger, peeled and grated
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 small onion, thinly-sliced, almost-caramelized in bacon fat
2 tablespoons or so fresh parsley, minced
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
Combine the juices, vermouth, ginger, garlic, and pepper flakes in a non-metal bowl. (Yes, it is important that it not be metal.) Toss in the fish, stir, and stick in the fridge for 3 hours. Check on it every now and then, to stir again. Bits of fish that stick snugly to other bits of fish won't get enough citrus magic to "cook" them.
Since I had many raw-looking bits still, I cooked mine real quick in some olive oil and butter, and served it with the onions over rice. Oh... and drain the fish before serving... plenty of flavor sticks to the fish without the need for all that tart juice.
It was scrumptious.

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.