Oct. 19th, 2013 09:34 pm
midnightsjane: (Default)
One of the things I like to do most to relax is cook. I am a good cook, if I do say so myself. I learned to cook by watching my Mom and Dad, and by helping out with the meal prep. I don't think I was actually taught, but I did pick up some of the tricks of the trade when I worked in the local café after school. I learned to make burgers (with ready made patties of course), I could fry up chips from potatoes I peeled and cut, and I made a mean milkshake by the time I was 16. When Mom and Dad were away on trips my sisters and I were responsible for meal making, so I learned to cook simple things. I've got fond memories of watching my Dad whip up his specialties; he made the most incredible steak, and he enjoyed making Sunday dinners. He had a special gizmo for peeling potatoes, because he only had the use of his left hand (the right arm was atrophied and paralyzed because of an accident he had when he was 23); it was a board with spikes in it; he would stick the potato on a spike and peel away. He would make the roast and potatoes and vegies and use every single pot and pan in the house, and we girls had to clean it up afterwards! We kind of dreaded Sunday dinners when Dad cooked...doing dishes took forever. He made the best frying pan fudge, too. It was creamy and sweet, and I'm salivating thinking about it now. Anyways, the moral of this story is that I came away from home knowing how to make meals for myself, something a lot of my friends couldn't do. I think every parent should try to make sure their kids have at least a rudimentary knowledge of cooking, because it sure beats eating out all the time.
One of the things that I like about being able to cook most is feeding other people. It's so satisfying to spend energy taking the raw ingredients and melding them into a tasty dish, then serving that dish to family and friends who give me pleasure by enjoying the end result of my efforts.
Since I live alone, I don't cook for others all that often. I do cook for myself, heeding my mother's advice to make at least one good meal a day, and enjoy it, because I'm worth the effort. But when I want to cook for someone other than myself, I cook for my good friend Sue. She's so busy these days with all that's going on at the farm, she doesn't always have time to cook, so I do it for her sometimes. (Plus, I promised her mother, a rather formidable woman, that I'd make sure Sue took care of herself. I don't want to risk the wrath of Peggy!)
Tonight I made a leek, potato and mushroom pie, and a mushroom and pea risotto. I made the risotto using chicken broth I made from scratch, using up the carcass of a chicken I had the other day. I was happily busy in my little kitchen for about three hours. A nice way to spend an evening, and now I have food to take to the farm tomorrow, plus some left for my own meals. Win-win.
midnightsjane: (Default)
Belated Happy Birthday to Scrollgirl! I'm sorry I missed your day, Scroll..hope it was a great birthday!

I surprised myself tonight with my inspiration for dinner: I had hardly anything in the fridge, just a couple of sausages, some limp celery, and half an onion. There was a chunk of mozzarella cheese, and a container of parmesan cheese, some butter and milk. I had a box of those lasagna noodles you don't have to boil, and not much else. So in a lightbulb moment, I thought hmmm..whitesauce lasagna. Might be good, might be disaster. So I sauteed the chunks of sausage with onion, garlic and celery, made a bechamel sauce, mixed in a good amount of parmesan cheese, and layered sauce, noodles and sausage mix, with slices of mozzarella. Sprinkled the rest of the parmesan on top, and popped it all in the oven. After about 35 minutes it was hot and bubbly, and the parmesan had made a golden cheesy crust on top.
Well, hot damn, it was delicious! I felt like I'd just won Chopped. LOL.

Then I wanted something sweet. I had oatmeal, some baking chocolate squares, I melted some butter, chopped up the chocolate and melted it in the butter, then mixed in half a cup of the oats. It was pretty thick and stiff, so I thought, how about orange and chocolate? Added some orange juice, tasted, hmm, a bit bitter. Had some icing sugar on hand, so mixed in enough to sweeten it, and then made little truffle sized balls, and rolled them in more icing sugar. Put them in the freezer for awhile, and then tasted..omg. SO GOOD!!
midnightsjane: (Default)
After a busy day at work I was in need of something more than a scrambled egg for my dinner, but what? I had a pork chop in the fridge, so I decided to cook that. Put it in a little olive oil and butter in my cast iron frying pan, then tossed in some diced potato. That started browning nicely, but seemed a little boring. So I grabbed a ripe nectarine and sliced it, then added it to the meat and potatoes, threw in some fresh green beans and drizzled the whole lot with a little black bean honey garlic sauce. Covered it up and let it cook until the potatoes were tender and the chop was done, about 10 or 15 minutes. It smelled delicious, and it looked really pretty, too. Put it all on a plate, and then enjoyed every single bite. It was totally yummy, and very easy to do. It looked elegant enough to serve to company, so I'm definitely going to remember this one. Yay, me!
midnightsjane: (pic#795251)
Today was day three for me. Getting up at OMFG o'clock in the morning once is hard enough; three days in a row is torture. Still, I managed to do it and get to work on time, yay me. Actually, my shifts have been good; had a very sick and interesting patient with some unusual issues, so I learned stuff along with doing my best to get her through the days. She's slowly getting a little better, so that's a nice way to end my work for the week.
Had a good rapport with the family, and got a great big hug from her sister before she left. Always nice to be appreciated, and to know that my small words of wisdom have helped them cope.

Got home and discovered I am completely out of bread. :( So I made a nummy loaf of yeastless oatmeal bread. It's a little cakier than yeast bread, but it tastes really good, especially right out of the oven. Bonus, my apartment smells so nice!

Watered the plants on the patio, ate some of the ripe raspberries off the bushes I have in planters there, drank some tea and tried to get onto LJ. Not much luck there, still. I'm glad we have DW now! I'm trying to expand my flist here somewhat.

I finished Ghost Story last night at about 1:00a.m. Really liked it quite a lot. Now I have to wait another year to find out what happens next! Start with the writing ASAP, Mr. Butcher.

Watched another episode of Buffy, The Ring of Amara.
midnightsjane: (Default)
Yet another day of sunshine! How can we stand it?? LOL. Very well, thank you. Keep'em coming, weather gods.

I'm tuckered out. Cleaned 10 stalls in about 4 hours, swept the barn floor, brought horses in from the paddocks, fed dinner, filled water buckets, cleaned paddocks, and then helped Sue groom Phaedra. I was happy to have to sit in my car for an hour to drive home!

Phaedra is getting really close to having her baby; she's due in two weeks, but looking at her today, we're not sure she's going to wait that long. The baby has dropped since yesterday; poor Phaedra looks like she has a giant beach ball hanging from her tummy! Could be soon... oh, my. We're excited..and there is Kismet's baby coming too, in about 4 weeks. We're going to be pretty tired by the middle of June, for sure.

I was too tired to go to the grocery store on my way home, so I had to do some serious improv for dinner; looked in my cupboards and found pasta (I always have pasta on hand), frozen peas and green beans in the freezer, eggs, cheese. Cut some fresh chives and sauteed them with garlic, then tossed the cooked peas and beans with the linguine, threw the whole thing into the pan with the chives and poured in a beaten egg. Stirred it all together, added some shredded cheese, salt and pepper, and called it a meal. It was quite tasty.

I didn't have any bread, so I decided to make some non yeast bread. I just took a nice loaf of oatmeal-wheat bread out of the oven, and it smells so fine. Can't wait to taste it. I must do this more often. I used to bake all my own bread, but I haven't done so for a number of years..I need to get back into it.

I'm ready to settle down with a cup of tea and some fresh bread now. Maybe I'll put a bit of stewed rhubarb on the bread...mmm.

Oh..My roses are getting buds! finally. It's been a long time coming
midnightsjane: (Default)
I was just watching this on the Food Network, chefs talking about the best thing they've ever eaten, the food that fills them up and satisfies every little nook and cranny of their souls. It got me to thinking about the things I've eaten along the way, and wondering if there is something I would classify as The Best Thing Ever. Now, I love food, I love to eat good food, and I like to try new things, new tastes. One of the best things about travelling is the experience of finding new foods, new taste sensations; I've never understood people who go to a foreign country and refuse to eat anywhere but MacDonalds.

Memorable food experiences for me would include the first time I ever ate snails (or, more fancily, escargot). I was in a Greek taverna in Athens, with a friend of mine who was married to a Greek man; it was a taverna frequented by Greeks, not tourists. The snails came in a sauce of butter and garlic and were hot and tender and just so yummy it made me forget what I was actually eating! OMG. mmmm.

Something else that I will never forget, and frequently wish I could get more of; genuine Greek rizogalo (rice pudding) made by Yianni, the owner of the little coffee shop on a back street in the Plaka, near the Parthenon, in Athens. He made it in a giant pot every afternoon, a creamy, mouth pleasing blend of rice and cream and sugar and vanilla, so warm and lucious, I crave it now. I've never had a better rice pudding.

Oh, and the Greek yogurt, made with sheep's milk, with a thin skin on top that you had to break through to get to the creamy yogurt underneath, served with a thick drizzle of honey. I can taste it now.

Wow, this is making me nostalgic for my time in Greece. So much of that time is connected to food and eating, it seems. No wonder I gained 10 pounds when I was there. I'd probably be big as a house if I'd stayed longer. ;P

What's the best thing you ever ate?


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