Showing posts with label cooking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cooking. Show all posts

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Ditzy Moment


A couple of weeks ago, the Appliance Guy checked out the burners on our electric stove. We were down to only one working burner. I actually watched the third burner spit up flames as it died. Both the Mama and I were worried that we'd have to get a new stove. All for naught. The Appliance Guy told us that all we needed were burners and immediately called in an order for us.

Since the Appliance Guy was there, I asked him if it was possible to calibrate the oven. "It's not working?" he asked, opening the oven door.

"Sometimes my dishes come out dry or undercooked, even though I follow the time and temperature on the recipes," I said, watching him take out the oven racks, turn them around, and insert them back.

"Were they in backwards?" I asked.

The Appliance Guy stood up. "The door wasn't closing properly because of the racks."

"Oh."

"The stove is also old," the Appliance Guy said, which he most likely added to cover for my ditziness.

"Over 25 years," said the Husband. Chiming in, I like to think, to also make me feel less scatterbrained.

"So, all this time I had the racks in upside down and backwards. I can never remember which way they go in," I said, thinking about the time I  couldn't figure why my boots hurt until a friend said, "Sue, you've got your boots on wrong."

The Appliance Guy said, "Just remember that the hooked ends go in first with the hooks down."

I nodded. "I thought they had to be in the front to catch the pans in case they slip out."

"I never thought of that," he said, smiling.

After the Appliance Guy left, the Husband  started washing the breakfast dishes. He was bent over the sink laughing like crazy.

"What's so funny?" I asked.

"You thought the racks would keep the pans from slipping," the Husband said. "If they slipped out it's because the floor is uneven."

What could I do but laugh with the Husband. Loudly and long.

I hope the Appliance Guy had a good laugh, too.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Cubed Tofu


Did you know that you can buy tofu already cubed? 

Seriously. I must quote the Mama now. "These businessmen are very smart. They know how to make money."

The other night I opened what I thought was a container of a block of extra-firm tofu. As I was about to drain the now opened container, I noticed loose pieces of tofu. What the heck? Then, I saw that the container was full of small pieces of tofu. I looked at the wrapper. Extra-firm CUBED tofu!  Again: What the heck?  

So much for having fried slices of tofu with roasted Brussels sprouts for dinner. It was time to get creative.  As the Brussels sprouts roasted in the toaster oven, I diced a fragment of orange bell pepper, a handful of browning chives, cilantro, and a bunch of garlic cloves. I also chopped salami slices, which I found in the freezer. 

I heated a big glob of bacon fat. Yes, bacon fat. The bell pepper was thrown in first. Two minutes later, the cubed tofu. Stir. Stir. Stir. In went the rest of the ingredients. Ding. The Brussels sprouts were done. Some leaves were burnt. I pulled out as many as I could, then tossed the Brussels sprouts into the tofu mix. Stir. Stir. Stir. Done!

It was okay. Probably better that fried slices of tofu.

Next time I'll make sure to read the tofu container label. Who the heck can't cube tofu?!

Much later: I decided to link up with Mix It Up Monday. Is it the right place to be? Someone will tell me otherwise,  I'm sure. Want to check out recipes and DIY craft instructions with me?  Click here.

Mixitup

Saturday, January 17, 2015

#2 Book Review for My 2015 Reading Challenge


Thug Kitchen is written by Matt Holloway and Michelle Davis, who are 29-year-olds, hence I can cross A book written by someone under 30 off my 2015 Reading Challenge

If swearing bothers you, walk by this cookbook, because a lot of f-bombs and sh-words are dropped. The title had me open the cover at the bookstore, but it was the novelty of the cussing that drew me into flipping through the book. There was nothing new under the sun for me. I know how to roast garlic, for instance. But, what  impressed me was that the authors offered recipes like the ones I make up and not make again because I can't remember what I did. Maybe I cook like someone under 30.

I left the bookstore without the cookbook, but I kept thinking about the intriguing recipes such as ginger-mushroom summer rolls, cauliflower cream pasta,  spicy plantain chips, and lemony red lentil soup. A couple weeks later when I was choosing books online for my birthday gifts, I thought, "Why not?" I needed inspiration for making more vegetable dishes.

About halfway through the book,  I realized that Thug Kitchen is a vegan cookbook. I guess the cursing is a gimmick to get people to eat their vegetables.  Anyway, I can easily adapt many of the recipes to include eggs, cheese, or other animal protein if I want to. Maybe I will somewhere down the road.

Fruit salad smoothie, anyone? How about almond Caesar salad, or, perhaps, whipped cream made with coconut milk?


Note: FCC and you need to know that the link leads to Amazon.com. Should you click it and happen to purchase anything there, Amazon may reward me with a bit of change.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Freshly Baked Bread


Yesterday, I made bread. White bread, to be precise.  I even followed the recipe, almost precisely, which is pretty good for me. I forgot to add the salt, but that's okay. We already finished one loaf.

I thought about putting up the Christmas tree yesterday morning, but chose to bake bread and make carrot and leek soup for lunch instead. I had a yen for freshly baked white bread for the past two days.  And, since I wasn't going to find what I wanted in the local grocery stores or bakeries, I might as well knead one to fulfill my need. Yuk, yuk.

I don't make bread much anymore. Not that I was ever a bread baker. I just like pounding the dough. Okay, the kneading. Knead, knead. Pound. Pound, Knead. 

Easy pounding. Not like the first time I made bread many decades ago. Imagine me, a 20-year-old college girl living in a second-floor apartment in San Francisco's Richmond district. It's late in the evening. Because I'm either stressed or bored, or both, with my studies, I am making bread on the flimsy kitchen counter.  Knead, knead, Pow! Pound. Pound. Pow! Pound Pound. Knead, pound, knead. My roommates say, "Gee, Sue take it easy."

Rat-a-tat-tat. Rat-a-tat-tat.  There is an angry rap at our front door. It is our downstairs neighbor. He is not very happy with the loud, continuous thuds keeping him awake. Poor guy.

I learned my lesson: Pound bread dough quietly and kindly.

By the way, the Christmas tree just might go up today.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Eggplant, Tomato, and Sausage Pasta


The other night, I made the kind of red pasta sauce for which I have been hankering for the longest time. Hurrah! The photo shows the leftovers I ate for breakfast.

Getting that "perfect" taste was by accident so I have no idea if I will be able to do it again. Booo!

I'm one of those people who likes to read cookbooks but modifies recipes while cooking and doesn't pay attention to how things are being changed. I also rarely measure amounts, and, when I do, I'm eyeballing amounts. That's probably why my chemistry experiments in school usually failed. Ha! on the person who copied my answers.

Ingredients I Prepped
  1. Slice 1/4" circles out of two long Japanese eggplants
  2. Destem a handful of cremini mushrooms and slice them into halves
  3. Mince two fist fulls of chives (which is from the Mama's garden)
  4. Smash and mince 6 to 9 garlic cloves (assorted sizes of small to medium)
  5. Dice a small yellow onion.
  6. Slice 1/4" circles out of two basil-mozzarella sausages  (already precooked)
  7. Defrost a cereal bowl of frozen tomatoes, probably 10 to 14 small and medium size (which we had picked last year at a U-Pick organic tomato farm)
  8. Boil 8 ounces of  fresh garlic-basil pasta.
How I Cooked the Sauce

Saute the onions for a couple of minutes, then add the mushrooms, garlic and chives. Stir. A minute later, add the defrosted tomatoes. Stir. A few minutes later, add the eggplants. Stir. A minute later, add dried basil and black pepper. (I don't add salt because the Husband is on a low-salt diet.) Let it all simmer for about 5 minutes, gently stirring now and then to make sure the eggplants get cooked in the juices. Finally combine the sausages with the concoction. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes, stirring to make sure nothing gets stuck on the bottom of the pan. That happens to me a lot. (Note:  If the sausages weren't precooked, I would have added them after sauteing the onions.) Oh, at the last minute I threw in less than a handful of leftover snap peas.

The Verdict

I served the dish by first putting a layer of noodles on the plate, next a slice of provolone cheese, then a layer of the sauce. 

The Husband told me what he thought about the dish before I could ask. "Yum," he said. "This is like eggplant parmigiana."

"I like the eggplants," said the Mama. She ate most of the sauce, picking out almost all of the eggplants.

Molly the Cat turned away from a sampling, but she did give it a good sniff.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Impulse Buying

I don't know what got into me.

The Husband and I went to the supermarket yesterday afternoon to purchase fixings for split-pea soup for dinner. That meant grab a slice of ham from the meat department and fill a bag with about 2 pounds of split peas from the bin in the produce section.

But, then we walked by the fish display. Wild, but previously frozen, Rex sole was on sale for $4.99 per pound. Neither of us ever had it before. Its name intrigued me. About a pound, please, sweet butcher lady.

Then I saw the squid. Ooooh. And, the octopus. Double ooooooh. The squid would be a treat for the Mama and for me. The octopus, too, if cooked correctly so it wasn't all rubbery. The Husband doesn't care for either, but he can have 2 pieces of the Rex sole. So, I asked for about a half pound of the squid and a quarter pound of the octopus.

As the butcher lady wrapped the items, I spied the locally made sausages. I turned to the Husband. "Shall we get some sausage?"

"I like those sausages," he replied. I asked for two calabrese sausages, which to my surprise was just over half a pound.

Rex sole, squid, octopus, and calabrese sausage. So many possibilities to create!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Summer of Pizza


One of my favorite birthdays was the year I asked for a pizza, five movie rentals, and to be left alone. And, I got what I asked.

Pizza is one of those treat foods for me.

The first few years that the husband and I were married, we ate a lot of extra-large pizza from this one particular pizzeria. We loved that they delivered. We gained a lot of weight. What kept us from gaining more than a lot was that we moved to a nearby city outside of the pizzeria's delivery radius.

Since living with the Mama, pizza has been a now and then food to enjoy. The pizzas sold around here tend to be heavy. I didn't think I'd ever say it, but yeah, too much salt, too much sauce, too much cheese, and too much grease. And, then there's the cost.  Oh, sure, it's cheap if we just wanted pepperoni and cheese. But, that's not the pizza experience for us. We like a pizza loaded with veggies, with the meat as an extra. 

Then, in late spring,  our favorite cafe  built an outdoor oven and started selling  pizza. Their crust is light and buttery, chewy yet crisp. And the toppings are things we like such as grilled chicken, artichoke, and cheeses others than mozzarella.   Fortunately, there were obstacles to keep us from getting addicted to their pizza: The cafe was in the next town and we're on a tight budget again.

Not having their pizza motivated me to make pizza from scratch. So, this past summer I was on a quest to find that right combination of yeast, sugar, liquids, and flour to form the almost perfect crust. I got close enough.

It's fun making pizza. I enjoy pounding and kneading the dough. It's also fun experimenting with toppings.  They're never the same because I use whatever veggies and meats happen to be in the fridge and pantry. It can get rather creative. The Husband and the Mama don't seem to mind. The last pizza turned out to be a very delicious experiment: First, a layer of roasted tomatoes in olive oil; next, a mixture of sauteed onions, garlic, sweet pepper, and portabello mushrooms; then a handful or two of thin slices of farmer's cheese and garlic cheddar cheese; and then a layer of minced salami, slices of elephant garlic, and chopped parda (a Filipino vegetable)  Finally, it was all topped with several slices of provolone cheese.

My recipe
There's really nothing difficult about making pizza. You can be as precise as you want or be all intuitive about it. The latter is me. Here's what I do to give you an idea of the process of making pizza. (You can easily find a basic pizza recipe with measurements online.)
  1. Warm 1 to 1.5 cup of water in the microwave. Add a teaspoon of yeast and a pinch of sugar. Stir and set the solution aside.
  2. Dump about 2 to 3 cups of flour in a large bowl. Make a crater in the flour with your fist. Add the yeast solution and a small amount of olive oil (maybe 1/8 cup).
  3. Combine and knead the mixture, adding a bit of flour at a time as needed. Knead until the dough bounces back a bit when you press on it.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball. Lightly coat it with olive oil and put it back into the bowl. Cover with something (I use a cloth napkin), set it in a warm spot, and walk away. 
  5. An hour or so later, punch the dough down and knead, knead, knead until you think it doesn't need it anymore. Put it back in the bowl, cover it, and walk away again.
  6. Assemble the pizza. Come back about an hour before you're ready to eat to do this last step. Less, if you've already prepared your ingredients. More, if you haven't and you tend to be slow about preparing things. Baking the pizza takes between 15 to 20 minutes, depending on your oven's idiosyncrasies, how thick your dough is, and what ingredients you're using.
© 2012 Su-sieee! Mac. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Making My First Filipino Dish

The parents liked fresh meat and they believed it was cheaper to purchase a pig (or cow or chicken), slaughter and butcher the animal,  and freeze the parts for when you wanted to cook. Because the cost of purchasing a pig was high, the parents often bought it with one or more friends. They didn't bring the pig to the butcher though, as part of the pig-buying event was the camaraderie among the men as they slaughtered and butchered the pig in our backyard. A bottle, or two, of whiskey also figured into the festivity.

Every part of the pig was used. Everything. For instance, the blood was directly drained from the pig into a pot. The right amount of vinegar was added to the blood and it was beat with a hand mixer until it coagulated into a thick pudding. The blood was used for a pork dish known as dinardaraan, which the Filipinos would call Chocolate Meat as they served it to children or non-Filipinos.

Along with the whiskey, Daddy always  served his compadres a meal of the freshly butchered pig. The rice would be made. Some pieces of pork would go on the makeshift grill in the back yard. And, some chopped pork would be brought into the kitchen for Mama to saute with garbanzo beans, onions, garlic, and pimento (in a jar), and frozen peas (if she had some).

This is one my favorite comfort dishes. Don't ask me what the name is of the dish. I don't know. Even Mama doesn't know the formal name of the dish. At least, not anymore.

It was at one of these butcherings that I made this favorite dish for the first time. Mama was not home, so Daddy called me to the kitchen. He pointed to the meat on the counter,  told me to cook it, and went back outside. There were no if's, and's, but's, or I-don't know-how's with Daddy. So, of course, I prepared it, visualizing how Mama made the dish.

I have no idea how Daddy and his friends liked my first try, whether they actually ate it or chewed it and politely spit it out. Both the parents believed in practice makes perfect. So, Daddy continued to ask me to prepare the dish during these butchering events whenever Mama was not home or she was busy cleaning the pig's guts.

Today, I make this pork and garbanzo bean dish whenever I have a craving for it or when I think Mama would enjoy eating some Filipino food. I know I've done well when she eats all of her meal.

© 2011 Su-sieee! Mac. All rights reserved.