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.

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. :-)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Herb Butter

I have no knack with plants. I can (and have) killed ivy. Southern states ought to pay me to cultivate kudzu... it would rid them of the pesty plant for good.

This extends to cut herbs. I can't keep them fresh. I follow directions I've found online, but with the exception of some thyme I bought a few months ago (that actually started growing roots under my careful negligence), they all start to shrivel quickly.

Today's Greenling box included some oregano (I think?!) and instead of trying to work it into every recipe, I decided to make herb butter. Then I can be all fancy-shmancy and add dollops of finishing butter to things. Best of all, I can stick the butter in the freezer and just use bits over time. Less pressure that way. I felt very in tune with the season while doing it, too. For most of the United States, herbs are just now starting to flourish, local butter is just now available again. We've been genuinely hot down here for a while now, but I grew up 600 miles north, so it's nice to feel in tune with the seasons everyone else has.

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.