Musing on food and cooking ...

Friday, August 31, 2007

Quick Stovetop Chicken and Veggie Stew, Manhattan-Style

This is a nice way to use up any leftover tidbits of fresh veggies.

4 chicken leg quarters
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, smushed
1 T olive oil
1 Quart seasoned tomato juice
1 small eggplant, rough chopped
2 small pattypan squas, rough chopped2 medium tomatoes, rough chopped
1 8 oz. container of 'shrooms
1 T. of Italian herb mix
1 T tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste

Put olive oil in a large Dutch oven and chicken. Brown on one side and then flip over. Add the onion and the garlic to the pot, and continue browning chicken. Once the chicken is browned, add in the tomato juice. Let cook until the juice just starts to bubble, left up the edges of the chicken to make sure that the juice gets down underneath. Turn the heat down to medium-low, so that everything simmers but doesn't boil over. Then throw in your rough chopped veggies. I listed above the ones I used, but feel free to use whatever makes you happy or whatever you need to use up. Once the veggies start getting soft, add the Italian herbs and the tomato paste. Stir well. Continue simmer until chicken is done. I left mine simmer for about 45 minutes. And served it with a nice crusty bread with butter. It would also go nice with rice or mashed taters.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Indian-Inspired Swiss Chard

In my garden box this last week, which continues to be mostly a disappointment, I received a large bunch of red Swiss Chard. Wanting to do something with it other than plain old steaming, which is what I normally do, I decided to first satuee it and then braise it soft Indian Style.

1 bunch Swiss Chard, washed well and then cut into ribbons
2 T Ghee (use oil if you have no ghee)
1 t of brown mustard seeds
2 T ginger paste
3 ice cubes
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the ghee in a large pan. Once it is hot add in the mustard seeds and cook them until they start to smell fragrant. Add in the ginger paste. Stir like mad! and then toss in the washed Swiss Chard. Cook until the chard edges start to curl and then throw in the ice cubes, cover and let steam until soft and delicious. Add salt and pepper to taste.

This marks the first time I have cooked with ghee. It has a strange nutty flavor to it that will require some getting used to. I am also learning that I really don't like mustard seeds. Except in mustard. Go figure.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

It's Raining, well, Rain

Here in the Midwest/Great Lakes Region, we have been experiencing the deluge. It has been raining nonstop for what seems like forever, and, at least in the Waukegan area, it has been raining hard and heavy. This is a completely depressing situation, as Mom and Doug had come down to help with all manner of projects around my new house and not much could be done because of the dampness.

So, on Sunday, we were sitting on the couch bemoaning the weather when I looked up and said, "What the hell!?" Several discolored cracks in the ceiling palster of my pre-living room. There obviously is a leak somewhere in the antiquated roof.

Mom and I went up in the attic and yanked some insulation down to see if we could find the leak. No luck. So I made about seven phone calls to local roofing folks and hoped to get phone calls back. So far, four have called and one has already come out to give me an estimate.




For my tiny little bugalow.

That high end estimate is if they have to redeck the roof, although I somehow doubt that is should cost nearly $3000 for plywood. That seems a little aggressive to me.

So Christ, Buddah, Allah, Kali, Hecate, and any other diety that might have pity on a single girl (oh wait - forget Christ and Allah), please rain down some money on my delapidated roof instead of rain. I really need it.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Summer Foods Require No Recipe

It's that time of year and the food preparation is easy.

I often believe that the best food is the simplest, with the exception of curry, which is only complicated because it uses a mix of a lot of different spices. Curry isn't hard by any means, but it certainly isn't simple either.

And so, now at the height of summer, when I never really want to cook anyways 'cause it is too damn hot, I simple take the best produce and make it simple. Washed, sliced, maybe a touch of salt, maybe some spices. The most commplicated thing I have done recently involved cleaning and then blanching green beans, seasoning with lemon olive oil, a splash of vingear, and some seasoned salt and then refrigerating for a quick summer salad. Or cherry tomatoes, little balls of fresh mozzarella, a srizzle of basil olive oil, and a splash of vinegar. Yum yum.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Recovered! Or, Why I am Glad We Only Have Reunions Every Three Years

Well, I have finally recovered from my long-weekend vacation to my family reunion in Rochester, MN. And recovery was needed. After the fiasco that was my plane trip to Minneapolis, I got in only a few hours late and Mom and I stopped to eat at the Vietnam Restaurant, a place whe had always wanted to try but never been able to find off the highway, largely because she hadn't driven far enough from the exit. We walked in and were a bit nervous as there were still many tables with dirty dishes, never a good sign at a restaurant. But, we decied to take a chance. It was quite delicious actually! And I have been yearning for good Vietnamese food. The restaurant was actually pan-Asian. We enjoyed a fresh spring roll Vietnamese-style (which means it had pork in it rather than shrimp), and Mom had a huge bowl of the best Tom Yum I have ever tasted, while I had a nicely seasoned chicken and cabbage salad. The prices were low and the portions huge - we ate leftovers for dinner.

On Friday, I spent the day mostly bored. I only like sitting around the house one day a week, usually Sunday, during which I watch all my Netflix releases of the week. So Mom took pity on me and we went to town to Birkmose Park, famous for its intact burial mounds, and then down to the waterfront park, where I walked across the bridge about half way over the St. Croix River.
Then, we went back home and got ready and, when my aunt J got there, we hoped in the car and headed to Rochester. On the way, we stopped for fish fry, that great Wisconsin tradition, and when we got to the hotel, we spent some time in the pool and hot tub.

Up the next day, we went to Denny's for breakfast (never had a bad breakfast at Denny's) and then out to the reunion. It was a fairly typical reunion - silly games like the girdle race, bingo, and lots of gossiping and looking at of pictures. There was a silent auction, which lead to some disgruntlement as a lot of the pencils had broken leads and certain someones were holding onto the only working writing weapons, meaning that not everyone was able to write their bids. You know who you are! The auction made a lot of money and half of it went to the Cancer Society, since so many people in the family have been stricken with some sort of cancer. There was also a Mass, during which I spent most of the time walking in the woods and trying not to scream out rude comments about Catholic monarchies and the abuse of young children.

We left for home Sunday morning and stopped for lunch at the Whistle Stop Cafe, somewhere along the way. Decent food. I had the turkey plate, which was real turkey and not souped up deli meat. When we got home, Mom took a nap and I went for a walk, despite the fact that it was hotter than hell.

On Monday, I got packed and headed for the airport for a 3:30 flight. I got there just before the 2 pm flight was leaving. They called everyone who was there for later flights to the cat and said, "We don't know if your flight is going, so we are sending everyone who can get a seat on this plane." I got a seat, but I will tell you this - I will never fly from Chicago to Minneapolis again. For all the headaches and cancellations and delays and bull, I would rather just drive.