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.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

That's military-speak for WTF, which I'm sure you all are familiar with.

I think it should be the new name for my "coupon rant." Because it is more inclusive. And while I'm ranting off and throwing tantrums about stupid things, I definitely want to be inclusive.

I was already in a mood this morning, for reasons I won't get into here. Add to that my favorite NFL team deciding to not attend the game today (apparently), and I was primed for my rather-late glance through the paper.

I found a couple of things to rant about in the one, lonely coupon insert, but they were fairly ho-hum. I was spared from mediocrity, however, by the TV.

Have you seen the new Hershey's commercials? Where people pop out of a glob of waxy brown goo (oh, I'm sorry, it's called chocolate) and grab each other's hands in a soul-warming round-the-choco-globe display of We Are The World-style peace and joy? Yeah. And the voiceover says idiotic things, basically claiming that eating a Hershey bar will give you friends, happiness, togetherness, and possibly world peace.

Folks, I've yelled it before and I'll yell it again... in the broadest interpretation of the word, Hershey's is food. It is not a magic life-fixing elixir. It is not a foil-wrapped solution to any of your problems. It is not a logo-imprinted bar of good emotions. It is candy. (Not even good candy, at that!) Eating a Hershey's bar will not make you happy, even if you share it with your best friend. Any emotions you experience while doing so are a result of your own good will... the act of sharing, not the magic of the thing being shared. Eating a Hershey's bar will not give you a happy family, will not fill their hearts with happy memories of time spent together, and will not bring about world peace. Especially since most mass-market chocolate relies on slavery and bloodshed.

Food is very important, and nourishing food can certainly improve your overall moods, simply because you'll feel better physically. It's really hard to be chipper and helpful when you're nauseous and exhausted... which is exactly how I'd feel if I were to eat a damn Hershey's bar. But if you turn to food for emotional/mental support for the things that are wrong in your life... you won't find happiness. Been there, done that. Discovering multiple food allergies was the best thing that ever happened to me, in that regard... because it was no longer convenient (or even possible in some cases) to use food as a balm for every wound or the center of every celebration.

The longer I spend away from much TV, the easier it is to see just how blatantly it tries to brainwash people... grrrrr....

Friday, December 25, 2009

Shoulda Woulda

I should have checked my own blog to see what I did to the duck last year... if I had, I would have enjoyed said duck a lot more. Live and learn, I guess. And a wrongly-cooked duck is still a duck, and ducks are delicious. I did at least recall that last year one duck was devoured by two happy carnivores, so since my mother (The Queen) is here this year, I bought two ducks. Double ducky goodness, and double duck fat. I have no idea yet what I will be doing with all that lovely duck fat, but I'm looking forward to whatever it is.

This year I scrounged the internet for a recipe, completely ignoring all the lovely cookbooks I have on my shelves. *sigh* Found, and crazily decided to use, a very vague recipe on a message board. What can I say? Momentary insanity? The fault might not lie in the recipe, but the ducks themselves. They were half the price of last year's glorious bird... since I had to buy two, I went with the cheaper option. And boy could I tell. Tasty, but definitely not inspiring a choir of angels to sing. They sho' looked purty, though!

Our Christmas Menu:

Orange Roasted Duck
Roasted Sweet Potatoes (I didn't use the cinnamon, or the nasty cooking spray)
Garlicky green beans
Noah's Bread rolls (a great all-purpose gluten-free recipe)
Pumpkin pie with fresh whipped cream

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Our Christmas Eve Tradition

We really are ridiculously stubborn.

But... when you take a girl raised in Kansas and a boy raised in Kentucky and stick 'em in balmy South Carolina... they get Ideas. Like "wow it's shorts weather on Christmas Eve, let's GRILL!" And then they decide that was an awesome Idea the next year, too. And the year after that. And then they get moved back to arctic Kansas... and they rethink things (neither of us can remember what on earth we had for Christmas Eve Dinner that first, frozen year. We were in shock.) We may have grilled the year after that, as the house we were in had windbreaks on three sides of the grilling area...

Anyway. Point is... we've been in South Texas for three Christmas Eves now. December is often when we get really smug about living in South Texas. Because of days like yesterday, when it was sunny and 72. So, naturally, grilled steaks were back on the menu, we were back to our Christmas Eve Tradition (we've done it enough times now, it counts as a Tradition.)

But today was not sunny, nor was it 72.

Today was 40-something, with howling winds that threatened to teach our gazebo how to fly.

Not good grilling weather.

As I said... we're stubborn. The Little Guy shrieked into the wind and ran around the yard, playing football, while the Grill Geek... er... grilled. (That's why I call him that.) I was warm and cozy inside.

So the pic is the Grill Geek's plate... as my steak had already been commandeered by the now-very-hungry Little Guy, and wasn't photo-worthy.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A festivus for the rest of us

We like to celebrate Festivus. Partly because we have, in years past, tried to celebrate every single holiday occurring in December, and partly because my husband feels some sort of affinity for the day. We don't yet have our own Festivus Pole, but we're hoping to get one soon. Beyond the official rites of Festivus, there is also a meal to be shared. No one is real sure what the traditional Festivus Feast includes... we can only guess by what was shown on the table in the Seinfeld episode. Many have concluded that it doesn't really matter specifically what is eaten, but that "comfort food" prevails. So, tonight we had comfort food... things the Grill Geek prefers, because it's his holiday.

Our Festivus Menu:

Good Eats Meatloaf (basically... I never actually follow recipes)
Annie's Gluten-free Mac & Cheese (two boxes for the three piggy cheese-lovers)
Mashed potatoes
Braised beet greens

We would have had dessert, as we normally do for special occasions, but... since it was the Grill Geek's holiday, and his sweet tooth only pops up for cheesecake (which I can't have and therefore won't make)... we went without. Probably best, since there were two diabetics present.

After dinner we aired our grievances, but in a funny way, and decided it was probably best to skip the Feats of Strength this year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I know this blog is about what I would eat, but I felt inspired this morning to list the things my kids won't eat. Mainly, I want to commiserate with the mothers (and fathers) of other, erm... selective children. And let me state that I know that being a bit choosy about food is actually an extension of a natural, biological, evolutionarily-protective instinct. And I've had the joy of watching my daughter "grow out of it" a bit. So I have faith that my son will as well. But it can still be grating when a foodie like me wants to make a feast and has to think up something for the kids to eat.

Things My Son Thinks Are Poison:

Meat with sauce (recently had some awesome brisket, but it was slow cooked in sauce...) this includes chili, but somehow does not include taco meat
Citrus of any kind
Mashed potatoes
Chicken nuggets
Hot cereal
Food with "dots" (I kid you not... if yogurt has the fruit's abominable seeds in it, no go)
Pretty much all candy except tootsie rolls, Snickers, and gum

Things My Son Will Eat His Own Body Weight In:

Meat: sausage, beef, chicken, pork
Green beans off my plate
Rice pasta, especially leftover, cold, from the fridge
Mac & cheese (from a box, ugh!)
Chocolate milk
Raw beef
Carrots and celery dipped in mayonnaise
Nut crackers
Toast with almond butter
Whipped cream
Chips with guacamole

Things My Daughter Won't Touch:

Cold meat
Mashed potatoes
Chicken nuggets
Hot cereal
Any chicken except Buffalo wings
Most French fries

Things My Daughter Will Eat Her Own Body Weight In:

Double cheeseburgers the size of her head
Mac & cheese
Grilled cheese sandwiches
Buffalo wings
Sliced & fried polska kielbasa
Very well-done steak (shudder, it's cruel to do that to a steak!)
Dill pickles
Shredded cheese (why? what makes shredded taste better?)
Cold cereal (ugh)
Whipped cream

Sunday, December 20, 2009

No coupons?

I get all ready to make my bloggy comeback, and there are no coupons? What is wrong with this world? C'mon... kill ten thousand trees to print up toxicly-inked incitements that convince me I am an inferior mother because I don't gas my kids with Lysol when they come in from playing in dirt. (Dirt... ew... it's so... dirty.) Is this a Christmas reprieve for my ego? Will they recommence the assault on my sanity on the 27th? Or wait until the new year? Let us not forget that we will need to be bombarded with reminders that it's time to make our New Year's Resolutions. If we somehow weren't reminded, we might not only forget that it was a new year, but also forget that it's time for our annual self-loathing to begin and self-punishment to ensue. So, I certainly hope they don't leave us hanging for long. If the coupons don't return on the 27th, we'll be 3 whole days into the new year before we have our bright, colorful, low-fat instructions.

I do think they need to figure out just exactly what they want us to do. They seem to give mixed messages. On the one hand, we've all learned from commercials and coupons and print ads that fresh baked cookies = love. If I don't have a plateful of sugar for my children on a regular basis, they will grow up believing their mother didn't love them. They make it perfectly clear. And holidays will be remembered with tears in therapy if I don't include lots of rolls from a tubular can. But then they also want us to all lose weight. You can't have it both ways! I can either love my family or have them be thin. And I absolutely cannot love them at all unless I've been pampering myself properly. That requires layers of body products that mostly smell like all the food I'm not allowed to eat. Vanilla volumizing shampoo, chocolate mint intensive conditioner, berries-and-cream anti-wrinkle moisturizer, probably some sort of grape-extract eye-lifter or whatever other goop a dutifully-young-looking mother ought to use.

But if I did all that, there's always the risk that my poor starved children would eat me.

I'd better start baking some cookies.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Commercial Rant

It's like my good ol' Coupon Rant, but... minus the coupons. Just a different marketing angle. Let me start by pointing out the obvious... if your "food" requires marketing, it's probably not really food. If you have to be talked into eating something, because your natural instincts would not lead you to recognize it as sustenance... it's probably not real food. And if marketing gurus are buying their third Lexus from the money they earned to convince you (and thousands of others) to eat said... thing... I can guaran-damn-tee it isn't food.

Ok, so what got my knickers in a twist today? Dominos Pizza. What a shock. I hold a big grudge against pizza in general, but only because I can't have any. It is not inherently evil... but even if I made my own gluten-free crust, I'd have to sub the cheese with something, and well... after you've made so many changes to something, you can't really call it "pizza" anymore. It'd be bruschetta with sausage, perhaps, but not pizza. Anyway, the commercial I saw today, while sitting on my butt, being a proper American couch potato watching football, had my mouth literally hanging open. Once I resumed breathing, the rant began.

The commercial in question showed a busy Dominos location, phones ringing constantly, with a manager-type explaining that with the price so low for such a delicious lunch, the only bad thing they had to say was... they were imposing a limit of 256 per household per day. Then they showed the customers hauling away stacked boxes of pizza in every way imaginable, including an irate mom who had brought a semi and was mad about the daily limit.


And not one of them was fat.

While I hate to go along with media hype in any way... (even so much as to keep my mouth shut about my bout with H1N1 because I don't like feeding the hysteria), we are in the midst of a huge problem with our huge butts. Worst of all, our kids are getting fat. And no, I am not prejudiced against fatness. I *am* however concerned about the illnesses that go with it, or more likely cause it, and all of it stems from eating absolute CRAP like Dominos pizza. The government even recommends that we all make sure to get plenty of grains and carbohydrates every day, despite the fact that it has been PROVEN that more than 150 grams of carbs per day cause illness. And there are a lot of carbs in pizza, especially in the ridiculous quantity most people serve themselves.

Oh, I know, Dominos still needs to make their profit... I wouldn't want the poor dears to have a bad fiscal year and then fire all those poor delivery boys. We *need* people to gorge on pizza, for the sake of the economy. Or some shit like that. Just think how many jobs we can create when we get sick!! Diabetes employs so many... lab techs to take your blood, machinists in the factories that make glucometers, pharmacists, doctors, nurses, eventually surgeons... and then of course all the marketing gurus to design and sell you sugar-free, fat-free phood.

Maybe Dominos will come out with a fat-free pizza. Wonder what that would be made out of?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I bow to The Big Easy

A good friend of mine tried her best to talk me into driving to New Orleans for Mardi Gras revelry this last weekend. I nobly resisted. I always cook my own Fat Tuesday feast, thank you very much... while listening to a mish mash of Zydeco and Cajun-inspired music. Sure, it's not as festive, and some year I hope to cross "Mardi Gras in New Orleans" off my Life List. But for now, I'll enjoy the fresh air and lack of half-naked crowds at home.

Well tonight's recipe was a flop. A failure. An epic fail. I recently stumbled across a new recipe website, I think on the recommendation of the magazine that sponsors it being one that encourages real food, not necessarily fast or easy food. I fell in love the moment I learned that a recent edition focused on either butter or bacon (I forget which). I've been visiting daily and printing off reams of delicious-sounding recipes. One of those recipes was for Grillades and Cremini Grits. I originally did not plan to serve this recipe for Mardi Gras. While not generally a creature of habit, I have spent the last 5 or 6 Mardi Gras making jambalaya or gumbo, either way involving a lot of sausage, shrimp, and/or chicken. Not grillades. And I know that grillades are generally a breakfast/brunch dish. Not dinner. As life happened, though, I didn't get to make them on their appointed night, so thought "well, hey, it'll work just fine for Mardi Gras."


Do not listen to those sorts of voices. Do not break from tradition. The gods of Mardi Gras were not pleased.

My first clue (other than trying to plan something not based on shrimp) should have been how different this recipe is from every other stinking recipe for grillades.

No one else uses an entire bottle of wine.

And now I know why. That's a lot of wine. And I like wine. But when it concentrates down that much... if it is not a very fine bottle, if you somehow follow the rule to only cook with wines you would drink, but apparently aren't selective enough about drinking wines... you end up with a final dish that tastes like tart wine. With onions. No beef flavor to speak of. Just bite after bite of wine. Blech.

The grits part didn't work out, either. Apparently the milk in the recipe serves a higher function than liquid and flavor. Maybe it's a custard-type thing. I subbed half chicken broth and half fancy-shmancy mushroom broth ("oooh, ahhh...") and ended up with runny grits. Harrumph. I'm hoping the leftovers will be good.

One good thing did come out of the grillades recipe.

I used half sorghum and half generic-gluten-free-white-flour-blend to coat the round steak, and it worked really well. It browned nicely and thickened the sauce very well.

So next year you can bet your sweet bippy I will be making jambalaya or gumbo. With sausage, shrimp, and/or chicken. Branching out isn't worth the risk. And next time I make grillades (yeah, there might be a next time, I'll try anything twice) I will stick to a recipe from Nawlins itself. Fancy-shmancy gourmet magazines don't know what they're talking about!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I heart raw fish!

Tonight's dinner seems like an episode of Connections. We start with my weekly delivery of fresh, locally-grown produce (and meat, dairy, gluten-free bread products) from Greenling. Oh, how I love the adventure of cooking whatever Mother Nature has seen fit to provide! This week included yet another massive bunch of cilantro. I know cilantro can be a very hot topic. But I am in the "love it" camp for this particular herb, so I like getting these big bunches. What I don't like is the guilt I feel when most of a bunch goes wilty (or worse yet, gooey) due to me not getting around to using it. I hate it when that happens with any of the lovely produce the farmers worked so hard to grow. Cilantro is very moody and can be hard to keep fresh for more than a few days. So, I resolved to make salsa. I googled around, but wasn't inspired, so I reached for my trusty Mexican Everyday cookbook, by Rick Bayless (if you're going to cook Mexican, get a Rick Bayless book!) I love this cookbook... for it's simplicity, ease of use, friendly voice, and especially for the amazingly sound advice for life in general that he gives in the introduction. Truly awesome. So, I was going to use his Chunky Fresh Salsa recipe, but I failed to pay attention and make a good list before going to the grocery store. I had no green onions. Would a regular onion work? And would it be too spicy for me? The older I get, the more of a gringa I become. That's when I remembered my Gringo's Guide cookbook... with handy flame ratings for each recipe. So, I flipped through and none of the recipes were quite right. I liked the sound of one that included cucumber, which I just happened to have (I know, I know, not seasonal at all!) But the book said it was best with seafood... and I was planning Grillades and Grits for dinner. Although my foot has been hurting from a freak soccer-with-4-year-old accident, so I really wasn't in the mood for an involved dinner. Last night I made a double batch of very-involved ragu, which fed us and the freezer quite nicely, but... left me rather TIRED. And casting evil glances at my kitchen in general. I've had enough chopping, stirring, and endless cleaning-up for a few days. And I love cooking, so that's saying something.

Ok. What can I thaw quickly (not using the microwave) that would maybe somehow go well with the salsa that I felt forced into making?

Fish. Specifically, halibut pieces from Vital Choice. Tasty for fish tacos, but my kids don't like fish... and I have a LOT of citrus on hand right now, thanks to Greenling... how about ceviche? I can make rice (with chicken broth to boost the nutrition) and we can either put our fishy goodness (plus some extra salsa) over rice, or maybe scoop it up with nacho chips (it's not as crazy as it might sound... the very popular Elise recommends it here.) And we can munch on chips and my fresh, homemade salsa while the ceviche... ceviches.

So, yeah... tonight's lovely and delicious dinner was brought to me by the letter C, for cilantro, and the number... bunch. Oh, come on, bunch is a number! And we'll be having those grillades and grits for Mardi Gras... hope to post about it!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


No, I'm not talking about the children, I would never call them that.* I'm talking about dinner! Delicious, humongous bratwursts from U.S. Wellness Meats, to be exact.
I was really tired tonight, after a long afternoon at our weekly homeschool park day, so I made the Grill Geek ply his trade for dinner. I chopped up some veggies for Sidedish (this time it was red potatoes, a small sweet potato, a lot of mushrooms, and half a red onion) and he did all the rest. A large scoop of real sauerkraut (with all it's lovely probiotics intact) and a dollop of coarse mustard were all that was needed to complete the meal.

Now, those brats probably look pretty big to you... and you're probably sitting there thinking "how on earth could she eat TWO of those things? She must be a pig!" Well, first of all, Smarty Pants, pigs don't eat pig, and these were pork brats. So. There you go. And secondly... I was really darn hungry after a light pre-park lunch and no snacks. And third... well... see for yourself.

I didn't eat all of it. Almost. But not quite.

* I prefer to refer to them as pirates, or perhaps "scallywags" on a bad day.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Since everyone does it, I did too.
Way too much food, all of which can be eaten with one's fingers, lots of grease, and plenty of spice.

Superbowl food.

First Half:
Steak Bites (I deglazed my pan with a glug of beer)
Guacamole and chips
Bacon-wrapped grilled leeks
Garlic-bacon potato skins

Second Half:
Italian Drumettes (I used the Ro-Tel tomatoes with chiles, to add a kick)
Veggies and dip

It was a little bit tricky timing it all so that I could actually watch the game (strange, football-loving woman that I am,) but it worked out pretty well. And with food for both halves, we were able to munch without stuffing ourselves.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Salty talk

I'm so glad that New York is the center of the universe and that its mayor has become the benevolent dictator of us all.

Having solved all the other problems, from homelessness to cancer, Mayor Bloomberg is now waging a war on salt.


Yes, my knickers are in a twist over this one. I realize that high levels of sodium can sometimes raise blood pressure in susceptible individuals. But it is NOT the demon it has been made out to be. (Imagine that, me disagreeing with a commonly-held belief about nutrition!) Real salt, whole salt, with all the myriad trace minerals in it, is a wonderfully healthy addition to the diet. But I doubt Mayor "God" Bloomberg knows that. I doubt his edict takes that into account.

To take it even further, salt can be much more than just a health-neutral flavor-enhancer. It is an important medicine for me. That's right, I said medicine (great, now the FDA will be breaking down my door to confiscate my salt shaker.) A year ago I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue. Too much stress, too much coffee and sugar, too many allergies... yeah, I was really sick. This post isn't about adrenal issues, so I won't go into detail on that, but there is a lot of information that suggests that salt is vitally important for the adrenal glands. Yes, it's a much-needed nutrient. Common advice for people with adrenal glad problems is to start their morning with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of good, natural, mineral-rich sea salt in a glass of water. I didn't want to taste that, so instead I put a little bit in every glass of water I drink throughout the day. The results were astounding. I instantly had more energy, more clarity of thought, and better moods. From salt. I realize this is simply anecdotal, not science... a sample size of one doesn't prove anything. But there are many more "ones" out there if you google around.

And since when has it been the government's job to protect us from salt? Protect us from brazenly unsafe food... rotten meat being chemically treated and put into sausage... milk being watered down and fortified with nasty additives... produce being sprayed with toxic chemicals to keep it "fresh" (oh, wait, the government is in favor of that one... hmmm...) but that is the limit. I am a grown woman. I decide what goes in my mouth. I do not want a babysitter and I will not tolerate someone forcing their inaccurate opinions about health down my throat!

Bloomberg also took on public smoking and trans fats... and I have mixed feelings about that. Both are unhealthy... true. But who's job is it to decide?

And the part that really scares me is at the end of the article... maybe I'm reading too much into it, but maybe I'm not.
"Thomas Frieden, the city's health commissioner, said he wants manufacturers and restaurants to join the war on salt voluntarily. If they don't, the city could pass legislation making it the law."
Let me get this straight... if I'm a restaurant my choices are to voluntarily reduce the salt in my menu offerings or... be forced to reduce the salt in my menu offerings. Hmmm... that's not really a choice. Why even use the word "voluntarily?" What a threat! "Do what we want or we'll make you do what we want." Has the government of New York City always used knee-capping tactics and I just haven't noticed?

I wonder what's next on Emperor Bloomberg's list of personal causes? It had better not be butter, or else he really will find himself at war.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Kung Hei Fat Choi

What could this possibly portend? (Other than the fact that I'm probably PMS-ing...)

Chinese New Year. We like to celebrate it because it's another chance at a new start. Plus, it's an excuse to make something deliciously Asian other than stir-fry. A reason to stretch past our usual culinary comfort zones.

And this year we had the benefit of a guest, my mother. It's amazing what one more dinner plate can do for a menu. Normally I have to cut out many things I'd love to make, because there aren't enough people to eat all that food.

So, to summarize, I was extra excited about this holiday. And all that extra enthusiasm translated into extra disaster. Especially with the aforementioned PMS. (I didn't know I was under it's cloud until the kitchen catastrophes started piling up and I overreacted like a hormonal teenage Scorpio.*)

My biggest mistake was probably not taking the time to write out an Order of Events. I'm a listmaker. I dig lists. I like planning and had plenty of time to do it before dinnertime. My comfort zone generally is to have just one Major Headache recipe involved in a meal. By that I mean something fussy and/or unfamiliar. This time I had two, and it ended up breaking me.

I've thought about including recipes... but I really followed the ones I googled. So, I'll simply include links.

Lion's Head Meatballs
Vietnamese Spring Rolls (with instructions on how to roll here)
Noodles (mainly for the sake of our rather finicky daughter, but they ended up working well)

Everything was humming along very nicely. I actually consciously thought to myself several times how wonderfully it was all going. I got started prepping things early. I noticed... actually noticed that I was in a really good mood. Not feeling stressed like I usually do before special "feasts." Yeah. That should have scared me. Next time I'll know.

Countdown of Catastrophes:

1) My new timer just didn't work. I set it for 16 minutes, for the rice spaghetti. Who-knows-how-many minutes later, I glanced at it to check how much time I had left. It was off. That's really what started everything falling apart.
2) The pan I'd gotten out to soak my spring roll wrappers in was too small. But I tried to stick with it anyway.
3) Rolling spring rolls is really, really hard. Especially if you have no idea what you're doing. They are sticky. And hard to roll tightly. And I had no idea what to try different. My brain actually snapped while rolling the fourth one. I felt it snap. I lost all grip. It was rather scary.
4) I checked my lion meatballs and it looked distinctly like my greens were not cooking fast enough. Oh, goody! I love it when the main course is late!
5) I suddenly realized I had made an entire package of noodles, instead of just what my daughter would want to eat, and had no idea what to DO with them to make them... Asiany.
6) I suddenly realized I was almost out of time and hadn't bothered to make any sort of dipping sauce for the spring rolls.
7) I suddenly realized I wanted to throw the spring rolls against a wall, to see if they'd stick.
8) The timer (that I'd reset for a guessed amount of time) went off for the pasta. Oh, goody, nothing else was done yet... the noodles will get cold and everyone hates cold noodles!
9) Crap, I hadn't stirred the noodles enough and some had clumped together. Everyone hates clumpy noodles!
10) In my rush to get the spring rolls ready, I used my Silpat as a cutting board... because my cutting board was full... and completely f-ing killed it.

Wow. I need another piece of chocolate, just from recounting all of that. Whew. And they say that whatever happens on New Year's Day (regular or Chinese) is auspicious for the year to come. Yikes!

So, in the end... it was all pretty tasty and not deserving of all the drama. I served the Lion's Head Meatballs on the noodles, instead of on the greens. I'd made 8 meatballs instead of 4, since 8 is a luckier number for the new year. So, instead of looking like lion's heads, it looked like eyeballs. I wonder if that's considered lucky?

*Apology to any Scorpios... but really... you've gotta remember what you were like. I've got a 10-year-old Scorp just beginning her journey into painful irrationality... I think I know of what I speak.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Iron Chef Duet!

It has been ages, felt like eons, indeed so much time has passed that it almost faded into legend... but Iron Chef Mom and Iron Chef Grill have returned! (Huzzah! The villagers rejoice!)

Now that my mom is living nearby, we have an additional source for Secret Ingredient inspiration. So tonight, for the first time, the two Iron Chefs teamed up for a historical battle against... well... no one, really. Perhaps it was against the Secret Ingredient itself. For tonight's was truly unique. Not a usual part of the American diet, although it certainly should be. Tonight's ingredient was... chicken livers. Nutrient-dense and incredibly inexpensive, liver of all sorts should be restored to it's once-a-week spot on the menu.

We decided to go with a vaguely Cuban theme for the meal.

The menu:

Grilled skewers with veggies and bacon-wrapped chicken livers
Grilled green beans
Fried chicken livers with onions on herbed, buttered white rice and braised greens
Grilled Orange Bananas Dean (an Iron Chef Grill original)
The wine: MiBal Tinto 2006 Ribera del Duero, 100% Tempranillo

The skewers
Cherry tomatoes
Chopped green peppers
Marinated halved button mushrooms (marinated in Worcestershire sauce),
Bacon-wrapped chicken livers

The chicken livers were marinated in this:

1/2 cup soy sauce (tamari in this case)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground ginger
a few dashes salt and pepper

The green beans were tossed with olive oil and salt, then grilled.

The fried chicken livers followed, somewhat, the Julia Child recipe from The Way to Cook. I breaded with half cornmeal, after seeing that in a few online recipes, and hoping it would help them be more crisp. It didn't work. But, here's what I did:

About 1 pound of chicken livers, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
Salt and freshly-ground pepper
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup white rice flour
several shakes each: chili powder, regular paprika, sweet paprika
3 tablespoons duck fat (leftover from our Christmas duck)
1/2 cup gently browned onions (recipe to follow)
1/4 cup dry vermouth
1/3 cup chicken stock

Season the chicken livers with salt and pepper, then dredge in mixture of flour, cornmeal, and seasonings. Fry in duck fat over medium-high heat, a couple minutes per side. Top the liver with the browned onions, pour in the stock and vermouth, raise the heat, and boil rapidly, basting the liver with the sauce. Scoop liver over herbed rice (recipe to follow) and garnish with parsley, if desired.

Browned Onions

Slowly saute 3 cups sliced onions in 2-3 tablespoons of butter, in a covered pan, stirring frequently, until the onions are very tender- 15 minutes or so. Uncover the pan, salt lightly, raise the heat to moderately high, and let the onions brown nicely, stirring frequently- 5 minutes or so. Can be made ahead of time.

Herbed Rice

Stir herbed butter (or butter and fresh oregano, parsley, and/or sage) into prepared rice, about 1 tablespoon butter per cup of rice. For this dish, make a ring of rice on a platter, place braised greens in the middle, and top with the fried chicken livers and onions, including the pan sauce. Garnish with parsley.

Grilled Orange Bananas Dean
(as opposed to Bananas Foster, where all the booze is cooked off...)

The booze is NOT cooked off here, and is quite tasty. The original recipe can be found here, but this time he used Amaretto for half the liquor, and I really like the change.

The Judge, my mama, really liked it all. She preferred the fried chicken livers... as did the Grill Geek. I was really surprised to like both (I'd never had chicken liver before.) The flavor of the bacon-wrapped was awesome, but the texture of the fried was better. I'm hoping to have them again soon, but in a marinara sauce. We didn't get done in an hour (it's amazing how fast that first 30 minutes goes!) but we all declared it a "win" anyway.

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.