jmfargo: (Default)
I was up at 5 AM again today. My head is pounding and my stomach's not sure of what it wants to do; does it play nice and relax, or does it rebel against the long-standing authoritarian government, me? Let's hope it plays nice.

I made some sauce, but couldn't run the chicken through the food processor (I grind my own meat) for fear of waking too many people. Even chopping onions and garlic woke Maria, so I can imagine that the whirring blades of chopping goodness would be a big no-no at 5:30.

But the sauce is done, which is nice. I'll make the chicken meatballs later, and let them sit in the sauce overnight, which will make it even more delicious. Pasta and sauce for dinner tomorrow, leftover roasted chicken tonight. Hooray for cheap and easy dinners that also taste fantastic! I'm trying to make "cheap, easy, and delicious" foods my specialty, and now I have a second pair of taste-buds to tell me how I can improve my dinners.

The house guest, my mom, is doing well. She fell asleep on the couch during a late-night episode of Chuck, and made her way to bed shortly after we did the same around 10 or so. Hopefully she'll start to feel comfortable enough to get on whatever her normal schedule is within a fairly short period of time. I want her to feel at home, except without the stress. The fact that she cleaned my kitchen top to bottom while I was out yesterday makes me worry about the second part, but she claims she "loves to clean," so what are you going to do, right?

Looks like my stomach made its choice, and its choice is "rebel against the dictatorship." Excuse me while I go take some Tums. In the mean time, answer me this:

What's the best cheap-and-easy-yet-still-delicious dinner you make?


Jan. 30th, 2009 09:26 am
jmfargo: (Default)
I have a one pound beef loin steak sitting in my refrigerator and I'm looking for a recipe. I've made steak au poivre many times, and enjoy it, but something new would be good.

Give me your steak recipes!

Assume that I have all the general pantry items in stock, but nothing too outlandish.

And no, [ profile] reverendfixxxer, "general pantry items" does not include grains of paradise. Other than that, I'm stocked.
jmfargo: (Default)
I didn't realize how out of sorts I was feeling until Sunday afternoon. By then I was calm, cool, relaxed, and everything was fine. I would have told you before that I was fine, but looking back I realize I was feeling a bit stressed for some reason or another.

The magic thing that calmed me down, put me into a good mood? Cooking. Lots of it.

Maria fell asleep on the couch watching me play Legend of Zelda, and I didn't want to keep playing because it might wake her up again. I went out to the kitchen and realized I had a bunch of big-pot meals to cook.

I started with the chili. I had ground the pork earlier in the day, so that was good to go. I threw everything together, put it on simmer, and moved to the next project, a vegetarian sloppy Joe thing done in the slow-cooker. It was quick and easy. Once that was done I moved on to trying to make Zuppa Tuscana, the Olive Garden sausage soup. This one took the most work, but the least amount of time.

As we drove out to dinner (these meals are for the rest of the week) I felt calmer, collected. It was a good feeling. By the time we got back, the food was done, ready to be packaged and put away.

I don't know what it is about working in the kitchen, but any chance I get to get out there and do an all-day cooking marathon, I take it. It's better than therapy.
jmfargo: (Default)
There's something very soul-fulfilling about cooking. When a recipe turns out just right, whether it's new or so old that I could almost do it blindfolded, it wipes away a bad day, regenerates my mood to a good one, brings me back to myself. It's a fantastic change. When I cook well on a good day, it can almost be magical. I barely overstate this.

I tried a new recipe tonight after spending an entire day shopping at different markets to get the right ingredients; fresh ingredients. Maria went hunting for some Thai recipes and found Spicy Thai and Basil Chicken*, along with three others that she thought we would both enjoy.

She was right.

Cooking it was simple, but the end result was a myriad of complex flavors. For my first time making this dish, I was very pleased with myself. I don't normally make stir fry; that's Maria's job. The chicken came out done perfectly, and the flavors were awesome.

I'm happy, content.

I'm also making chicken stock from the bones and leftover bits of the chicken breasts that Maria separated before I cooked. I haven't made stock very often, but again it feels good, and I'm happy.

Tomorrow, the zombies could come knocking on my door, and I'd always remember today as a good day. If the zombies don't come, however, I'm going to try to top today. It should be interesting. Or a disaster. Either way, it'll be fun.

*A tiny adjustment was made of one more garlic clove and no garlic salt. The oyster sauce gave plenty of salt without the need for more.
jmfargo: (Default)
My chicken chili went over well with the crowd last Saturday, so this week I'm trying Alton Brown's Stovetop Mac 'n Cheese to share. I've made it before, but Maria says that since the first time I made it, it's gotten worse. Believe it or not, I appreciate her candor, because that means I can go back to basics and figure out what I've been doing wrong. If she had said nothing, then I could never fix my mistakes.

Of course, the fact that I'm trying to fix my mistakes by cooking enough for 9 people makes it a little bit overwhelming, but that's okay, I can handle it, I'm a pro! Well, not really. I don't get paid or anything. That makes me kind of just an amateur, I suppose. Still, I'm good at it! Mostly. Unless I mess it up.

Still, I think I'll do okay. I have to go shopping to buy some pasta and evaporated milk, along with about 4 lbs of cheddar cheese, but other than that I'm ready.

I have come to the realization that I'm really bad at ending my posts when I'm talking about my daily life, so there is no attempt at an ending "punch" here, or whatever.

Who would win in a fight: A Bear with Adamantine claws, or a shark with a laser beam attached to its head?


Aug. 15th, 2008 12:17 pm
jmfargo: (Default)
I entered the local crab cake recipe and cook off contest this morning after about a month of trying to perfect the recipe. I can't say that it's perfect, or that I even wrote it out that well, but I'm trying, and it should be at least pretty decent. My one hope is that there were only 7 other entries, since 8 people go to the final. A guy can hope.

This got Maria and I looking around for other recipe/cooking competitions. I don't know that what I can do in the kitchen is "up to snuff" for competitions like this, but if I don't try then I'll never know. I watch these things on Food Network all the time, and often hear myself saying "Wow, I can do better than that!" Well, time to prove it!

Plus, some of these competitions give out big money. That wouldn't hurt either. If I win the chicken recipe contest I'm entering, I'll have enough money to tear out our current kitchen, blow out a wall, make it bigger, redo it, buy all new appliances, upgrade my computer, and maybe still have some left over in savings!

So, I think I'm going to go back into the kitchen now and work on some recipes. Maybe I can come up with something that takes 30 minutes to cook in the kitchen, and in the 30 minutes make a meal that wins me more than a year's salary?

That would be nice.
jmfargo: (Default)
Finally, for the first time since the wedding in September, I'm able to use our bowl mixer to make, are you ready for this?


I'm trying the Alton Brown pizza dough recipe, and while I've had to change a few things (did you know it's almost impossible to find Instant Yeast out here? Chalk another thing up to "Delaware is weird), overall I think I've got the amounts and times right. The pizza dough is being beaten by the hook setting right now, and it's going rather well.

Hopefully this dough works out. I should know by tomorrow.

Yeah, it takes 24 hours to sit and be ready for cooking. I know it's a long time, but if it's actually going to produce good pizza, then it's worth it.

Any bakers out there? I'm thinking this could be a funny hobby.
jmfargo: (Default)
The best part of Maria being in the hospital was that I got to play with dry ice. The second best was the care package we got from her family consisting of Omaha Steaks, which was packed in the dry ice, which was awesome to play with and go out on my front porch with in a large container, making it smoke and boil while traffic went by, staring at the weirdo with the dry ice.

But what I have left from that wondrous day is the steak. Loads of steak, compared to the no steak I had before this package arrived. Filet mignon, the queen of steaks, t-bone the jester, and porterhouse, the fat king.

Of course, for those that don't know, Maria doesn't like eating red meat.

Awesome care package.

We're going to have it tonight anyways, starting with the filet. I'm going to make a pepper-crusted steak, with a nice garlic/rosemary/thyme cream sauce to go over the top of it. Very simple, and with some asparagus and stuffed potato shells on the side, hopefully a very tasty, enjoyable, dinner.

But, as in all good narrative, there's a problem. For the first time in years I find myself using an electric stove (and oven), and I'm concerned. I, like many of you, have heard horrifying things about how electric stoves (and ovens) tend to be, to put it nicely, "not good." I'm concerned that with this electric stove (and oven), I will ruin what should otherwise be an amazing meal by burning, or not cooking enough, or exploding, my meal.

Anyone out there with an electric stove (and oven) that can offer the best guidelines for producing fine-dining quality foods on one of these beasts?

(EDIT TO ADD: Just so you know, [ profile] reverendfixxxer, this recipe is inspired from the Alton Brown tapes you sent me. I'll be doing a LOT of watching those tapes over the next few months to get inspiration. And now that I have cable I can watch him there too! You got me addicted. Thank you!)

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