Friday, November 15, 2013
Have you ever heard news that was so completely heartbreakingly shocking that it shook you? Hard? That was Tuesday for me.
I was driving home from work through the rural Ohio landscape. Running into my standard delays.
I was crawling along slow enough that I don't think I endangered anyone taking this photo.
And I know I wasn't even close to danger in this one. The only way to take a non-blurry photo of a train at a crossing is if that train happens not to be moving.
So there I was, taking forever to get home, and I decided (as I sometimes do when stuck at substantial delays on my commute) to check Facebook on my phone. I was surprised to discover that I had a message and there had been 17 updates to it. I wasn't panicky because I figured it was one of those messages from my friends or family that someone was participating in a Team in Training event, or someone was looking for a tutor, or something like that. But when I opened the message thread it seemed like for a brief moment the world stopped.
To quote Obi-Wan, "I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened."
Lisa had died. It is still so hard to process that someone so vivacious, so full of life, so encouraging, and so friendly was gone. A great big HUGE empty hole is left in the universe. Lisa affected so many people with her wit and her charm and her unbelievable sense of humor. Just like literally thousands of other food bloggers, I would have never started blogging if it hadn't been for her. If you read my very first blog post, I was already following the Daring Bakers, a group that Lisa and a friend co-founded. I felt so happy to be in the first 300 to sign on. It was the idea (she never did post the recipe) of her calamari sauce that I drooled over. I was lucky enough that I got to meet Lisa and her friends. Even though I was nervous, uncomfortable and completely lost, Lisa accepted me with open arms. She became the little voice in my head cheering me on. Just last week, when I asked my Facebook friends if any of them had ever made yogurt (I'm trying to get away from chemicals). Lisa encouraged me. She told me that the Daring Cooks had just done it.
I did make that yogurt Lisa. Gah! Well I attempted to make that yogurt. It totally failed. Completely liquid. It made me think of some of those Daring Baker challenges that just didn't work out. And that made me smile to remember how hard those challenges were and just how rewarding. Wednesday, I went into work determined. I borrowed the yogurt maker machine from the Home Ec teacher. I exactly followed the manufacturer's directions. And today I did it. There is yogurt in my fridge.
And a hole in the force that can never be filled.
(I don't actually think Lisa was a Star Wars geek, but it's part of the culture of people our age. I think it would have made her smile.)
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
The Brain and I have been playing a new "game". (Get your mind out of the gutter.) Every weekend he picks three packages of meat out of the freezer and I find some way of cooking them. We started this little ritual after he realized that I could take an entire evening to make my weekly meal plan. Yes, I like to know what I should be eating for breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner every day. (Unfortunately, there sometimes appears something delicious like oatmeal cookies that throw a wrench in any meal planning and I eat them until they're gone.) It's been working out pretty good so far. I've been trying to loosen up and go with the flow at mealtime and we're slowly eating all of the meat in the freezers.
This week though, things really came into line. Monday night I was sitting around watching TV, wondering how bad the storm was going to be, wondering if school was going to be cancelled on Tuesday (it was), when I flicked to Paula Deen making these beautiful pork chops. I was stunned. I was hungry after watching. I had already made dinner. D'OH!
So at the earliest opportunity (the next day), I pulled the thawed pork chops out of the freezer and had at it. Fortunately I had most of the ingredients in the cupboard because we were snowed in. I kind of tweaked what I had to make do for the stuff I didn't have. I was sad to see my package of pork chops only had two in it. (All our meat is wrapped in butcher paper so it's like opening little presents.) But I'm saving the extra rub for next time the Brain pulls out a pork chop package. The dry rub is super easy to mix together and the pork chops cook really nice and quick. If I liked gravy, I might make a gravy out of what I'm sure are the delicious drippings still in the pan. Even the Brain, who eats whatever I make and doesn't really comment, remarked that these were some delicious pork chops.
I sure wish there were leftovers...
Chocolate Spiced Pork Chops
adapted from Paula Deen's recipe
2 Tbsp firmly packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
1 Tbsp dehydrated onion flakes
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground black pepper
4 (1 1/2 inch thick) bone in pork chops
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, Italian seasoning, onion flakes, cocoa powder, garlic salt, paprika, red pepper, cumin, and black pepper. Rub the mixture evenly over the pork chops.
Add the oil to a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add the pork chops and cook for 3 minutes per side. Put the skillet in oven and bake the pork chops until cooked through, about 8 minutes.
Remove the skillet from the oven, transfer the chops to a serving platter and serve.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
(3 weeks after we met)
Don't get me wrong. We are very compatible and live a life full of love and laughter, but we're not traditional. Did I ever tell you we met on the Internet? Indeed. I met his requirement of being a Catholic without any children and he met my requirement of being bald. Yes. I like bald men. A lot.
This is us about 8 months later (when I already knew there was no going back.) Aren't we cute? That's one fine looking bald man...
So yeah, sometimes I like things a little different than the next person. For example, I have always had a certain soft spot for a bald man. I think I get it from my mother who thinks Danny DeVito is a wildly sexy man. I'm not even making that up.
Given some ground lamb and a craving for Indian food most people make Ground Lamb with Peas (or Mutter Kheema). It's delicious. But I had just gone to the library and checked out From Curries to Kebabs, recipes from the Indian Spice Train by Madhur Jaffrey. In this very interesting cookbook is a recipe called Narangi Keema, which is short for Hyderabadi Ground Lamb with Orange. It's a really unusual, really delicious dish. I didn't alter it too much from the original recipe. The only difference is that at the end of the recipe she says to add the garam masala, but doesn't include it in the ingredients list. and the unit of measurement is missing from the coriander leaves. It just says 1. 1 what? 1 bushel? 1 tsp? 1 cup? Yes, it's the standard how to annoy a math geek moment. But anyway, this was really different and tasty way to try a new Indian ground lamb recipe.
from From Curries to Kebabs with alterations previously noted.
1 large orange
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp peanut oil
2 medium onions, sliced into fine half rings
2 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground coriander
2 Tbsp peeled and grated fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, crushed to a pulp
4 Tbsp plain yogurt
2 pounds ground lamb
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 serrano peppers, sliced into very fine rounds
1 cup lightly packed cilantro, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1/2 tsp garam masala
To prepare the orange, peel off the orange rind, making sure to leave the white pith behind. Cut the rind into very fine, 1 inch long julienne strips. Combine the turmeric and salt with 6 cups of water in a pan and bring to a boil. Pour half into a measuring cup and reserve. Add the rind to the boiling liquid in the pan and boil rapidly for 1 minute. Empty the pan through a sieve set over a sink. Pour the reserved turmeric water back into the pan and bring back to a boil. Put the rind back into the pan and boil again for 1 minute, then strain again through a sieve set over the sink. Rinse the rind under cold running water and set aside.
To prepare the lamb, pour the oil into a large, nonstick, lidded pan set over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, stir in the onions and cook for 6 to 7 minutes, or until a dark caramel color. Add the cumin and coriander and stir for 30 seconds. Add the ginger and garlic. Cook for 1 minute. Stir in the yogurt 1 tablespoon at a time, waiting for the previous tablespoon to be absorbed before adding another. Put in the lamb, turmeric, and cayenne. Stir and cook for 5 minutes, breaking up all the lumps in the meat. Add the orange juice, rind, and salt. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer gently for 40 minutes. Add the chilies, cilantro, mint, and garam masala. Stir to combine. Cover and continue to cook for 10 more minutes. Serve.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Also, expect to see updates ocassionally on how the training is going.
And yes, those noodles are made from scratch, not a box. If it weren't for the Pan Ohio Hope Ride, I would be doing what every other chubby, emotional eater, in rural Ohio does and eating plates and plates of this delicious Spaghetti and Meatballs. Okay. I did eat plates and plates of Spaghetti and Meatballs, but in my defense, yesterday was my birthday, and I seriously think The Complete Meat Cookbook is one of the top 5 cookbooks in my library (one of the spare bedrooms, not the public library.)
Meatballs and Sauce
adapted from The Complete Meat Cookbook
1 pound ground chuck
1/2 pound bulk pork sausage
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup dried breadcrumbs
2 tsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp minced onion
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley (I used 1/4 cup dried because it's what I had)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 Tbsp finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
2 medium stalks celery, chopped
1 Tbsp chopped garlic
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup beef stock
3 cups canned tomatoes
1 tsp Italian seasoning. (Ok, it supposed to be basil, but somehow I have none in the pantry)
In a large deep bowl combine all meatball ingredients. kneading and squeezing until everything is well blended. Shape the meat into 24 meatballs (approximately 1 1/2 inch balls). Place the meatballs on a cooking sheet lined with parchment and place in a preheated 500° oven and bake for 10 minutes, ocassionally shaking the pan.
Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to a Dutch oven, add the onions, celery, and garlic and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring once in a while. Pour in the red wine and bring to a boil. Cook until the red wine is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Add the stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer. Add the Italian Seasoning (or basil) and a pinch of salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes and then using an immersion blender puree the sauce to as smooth as you prefer.
Put the meatballs into the pan and simmer over low heat for another 30 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper and serve over the cooked pasta of your choice.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Here's the fine print: