Saturday, December 31, 2011

Tell Me Something Good

The last of the ham and the bone from the holiday went into my Great Northern Bean Soup. White beans and ham go together like white leather at a Poison concert, like tasseled shoes at a Republican convention, like...okay, that's all I got. But every time I make a bean dish I pat myself on the back and am reminded that each cup is about 14 grams of protein and fiber, that its rich in iron, magnesium and folate. Even though I don't know exactly what that all really means, I know its a good thing.

Or at least I know it helps the high sodium, high cholesterol ham go down my conscience. You gotta put a positive spin on these facts girls.

We All Need Something We Can Dream On

This Saturday we took a long walk through a different neighborhood in Brooklyn, part Prospect Heights, part Fort Greene. It's always astonishing to see the impressive architecture and the different periods, all on the same block sometimes mixed up.

Brooklyn is like a living museum and it still takes my breath away. I feel like its such a privilege to walk around for free and just take it in.

Other times I just wanna get the hell out of here and be next to family, like my sister R. I dream about hanging out and having lunches, making food together, exploring small towns and maybe even one day starting a restaurant or some type of food offering.

P also dreams on living near his brother, Big Ed actually, the pepper king. Being in Brooklyn or New York in general, you have all this wonderfulness here all around you. But without family to share it with, it can feel a little lonely sometimes. Friends are amazing but even our close friends have family here.

I found this tree and it was unreal, skin like an elephant and all these hidden faces. But I could only send a picture.

These old buildings have seen so many wanderers come through and stay awhile, only to leave and settle other places. The stories they could probably tell.

We walked and walked until our knees were tired and then we hoofed it to the corner diner where I enjoyed a beef bacon cheddar burger deluxe and P got the turkey club with fries.

Its always great to have something to look forward to, possibilities down the road. Dreams change along the way. Right now even though we enjoy Brooklyn so much, its so exciting to imagine having a true best friend within shouting distance.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Will It Go Round In Circles

I'm having a hard time letting go of the good times regarding the fun foods of the holidays. Plus I have leftovers and it would just be a shame to let them go to waste. I've written about my love of Stouffer's French Bread pizza back in my teens. Today I took my leftover rye bread slices, ham & chorizo, broccoli, and feta..okay AND cheddar cheese and made mouth-watering crispy slices of pizza you could hold in your hand. Just like the oblong memories of yester-yore. There is something that happens with actual bread when it bakes and gets crispy but yet still has the chew. It stands up so nicely with the toppings.

I need to stop. I need to get back on a the good foot with healthy eating habits. However, this was not as bad as it could have been... I tell myself reassuringly. But you have to let the bad guy (in your head) win every once in a while! Wink, wink.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

So Very Hard to Go ('Cause I Love You So)

The thing about leftovers is that they can be a bit of a mish-mash. I had the meat leftover from the buffalo chicken sliders without all the buttered hot sauce, along with the celery and blue cheese and potato rolls. But what goes with an appetizer?

Instead of making sense I just paired it with two vegetables, corn and broccoli. Mainly, for the weening process. You know when you have to you go back on to regular food after all these holiday decadent treats. It's like Monday for food, it's like bedtime for toys, the party's over and you have to get a hold of yourself and get right with your gut. Man, I'm sorry it has to end.

It's Too Late, To Turn Back Now

When you have a vat of leftover baked ham, then ham and cheese omelets are in order for breakfast! This was a really good tasting omelet. Shameful chunks of ham in every bite, along with sweet Videlia onions and cheedar cheese.

However, I realize a real chef might scoff at it. I remember a cooking show where the chef said properly made, an omelet should not have browning on top. I've actually been successful making a suitable puffy pale yellow omelet but through the years I've sort of come to like the taste of the little extra browning on top, around the edges. Not dry and overcooked mind you but just a slight color. Its a bit more cowboy which I enjoy.

Sometimes you want delicate and soft and other times like this morning, maybe a bit more rustic, sitting by the campfire on a rock, drinking your black coffee out of a tin cup type breakfast with your boots on. Eggs that stand up and say 'Let's eat!'.
Plus, you can't go back on eggs. What's done is done.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

It's Like a Broke Ass Holiday

The holidays this year have come and gone sort of quickly, without all the usual fanfare. Circumstances sort of made it hard to get too happy. But it was surely worth celebrating. Snacks were in order!

First I roasted some tangerine chicken for some buffalo sliders complete with celery and bleu cheese on tiny potato rolls. Charming!

Next I put out toasted crusty bread rubbed with garlic and olive oil with a light pesto made with basil, parsley, walnuts, chicken stock, Parmesan and just a bit of EVOO. Heavenly! See it could be cool!

The knock out was individual ramekins of shrimp and grits with a Cajun roux // Check out the recipe, it's lethal. They had me at whipping cream.

This was really good too but decadent after the whole shrimp fantasy. A baked jalapeno queso dip. The surprise was how the fresh sliced jalapenos baked up so nice and mellow and really spread that roasted pepper flavor throughout the cheese. Just like you get with plain nachos. Served that with my favorite corn chips.

Always afraid there might not be enough, and since I had earned the free credits over at the PathMark, I picked me up a nice spiral sliced ham with a honey glaze for a song. I can't take much credit for that since its really just heat and serve. And I forgot to take a photo, so I'm using a stock photo. I simply put out sliced rye bread, horseradish mustard and then rested the ham on a cutting board for quick and easy sandwiches.

It could be worse!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

I'm Just A Girl In the World

I love Green Acres! I can identify with almost every character and couldn't easily pick my absolute favorite. But when I was little, I figured I might go into plumbing and electrical, maybe some carpentry. Be somewhat of a Ralph Monroe, the girl brother of Alf. She spoke to me somehow.
My mother reminded me of Lisa Douglas, glamorous. She had the same hair too except it was brown, about the same stature and size. I loved Lisa's clothes but in my head it was all Ralph. But I could certainly relate to Eb and Hank Kimball as well.
Plumbing still interests me and I get excited to pull out disgusting clumps of hair balls whenever I get a chance. I like taking things apart and tightening loose things. I like googling things like, how to connect a garbage disposal.
P's a Facilities Manager of a whole high rise in New York City. So you'd think that the leak underneath my kitchen sink would be fixed but no. After I rustled up this sort of egg fajita platter including plenty of veggies and turkey bacon, soft scrambled eggs and English muffins for breakfast, I went under to take a look see.

You Should Be Dancing

Here and there life is good! That's when you gotta celebrate. Even if you don't know why. If you're a woman you are prone to fluctuating mood swings to say the least. When mother nature gives you a good week or day even, then you say Thank You and you don't ask questions! Just run with it girl.

One great thing was I had ready baked chicken thighs in the refrigerator and a nice big salad sounded lively. I cut up the chicken in big hunks, added chunks of green apple, celery, tomato, avocado, and lots of lemon juice, salt and pepper.

I also had this great provolone so I warmed up some pita bread and scooped the salad in between a nice big slice of cheese. The green apples burst in your mouth when boosted with lemon and then the spicy chicken and tart tomatoes play nicely with all. I put mayo on one side instead of dressing the whole salad with it but you could omit it altogether. It doesn't really need anything.

This is a happy meal.

Never Can Say Goodbye

Low Mein. Pepper Steak. Egg Rolls. BBQ Short Ribs. See this is why foodies find it so hard to leave big cities. With all the amazing food, sometimes you consider Chinese Take Out to be a bad choice. But then you realize, our Chinese take out restaurants kick ass ovuh heuh! How good was this?! And it was all under $20. C'mon!

These little unassuming depressing store fronts house these master chefs. We watched this guy do all this Benihana hoo doo knife magic without an audience. All alone in this tiny space. Fire to the sky, gigantic wok. His vegetables came out perfectly done. Glistening green bell peppers, onions with a bite, vibrant green onions. And then they wanna give you a free soda just for coming in. Don't wanna let you go!

The boneless shortribs alone were heaven sent. That color. And they give you so much! That's the other beauty of Chinese say as opposed to Thai. You get enough low mein to have for lunch the next day and that's the small. I love this town!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tryin' To Get the Feeling Again

I needed a food snuggie tonight. That is to say a nice warm head to toe soft but fulfilling comforting stew. Old fashioned beef stew. Big chunks of carrots, potatoes, celery, onion, and beef simmered in the bones with marrow, thickened with flour. For color and more nutrition I added frozen corn and peas as well as a 1/4 cup of barley.
This was another one of the first recipes I really embraced years ago out of my Fanny Farmer Cookbook. This simple method produced a perfect stew with that familiar reassuring delightful warm, soft delicious taste going down your throat. It's like being back in the womb.

Life Ain't So Bad At All, If You Live It Off the Wall

Another Mexican take on Eggs Benedict. This time with Thomas' English Corn Muffins, enchilada sauce replacing the hollandaise sauce. Turkey bacon which is not Mexican substituted for the Canadian ham. I keep recreating takes on this dish but if you change the main basic principles of the dish, can it still be called a 'take on that dish'? Even if the answer is no, its still a great tasting breakfast meal.
Biggie replaced Che in a recently revealed artists' mural rendition of the popular image on the corner here in Fort Greene. I ponder the same question a bit with this painting. But it's beautifully done and looks great!

Don't Do Me Like That

Do you have trust issues with yourself? I do. Sometimes I make a dish and love it, then later question whether it was really that good or perhaps I was not being truthful with myself? That's lying. That is distrust.
The facts; There are tried and true recipes within the Mexican community and I had never come across one that included a pork chop with enchilada sauce, cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion. Cheese on pork doesn't even sound that good. Matter of fact it sounds wrong like eggs with chicken. Now if you know me, you know my love for my mother's enchilada sauce so if you poured it over old shoe leather I'd probably lick it up. But this was 'new' good, like a discovery when I fried up a pork chop and crowned it with my enchilada toppings a few months ago. I thought it was special. So I made it again just to ensure I wasn't getting played and guess what? It IS good and it really is worth checking out. That is, if you had my mom's enchilada sauce recipe. Oh Snap!

I Can't Tell You Why

I've never been all that good at showing up for my life events, either physically or otherwise. I can't explain it. But that is a flaw or quirk or social defect that I have come to live with as fixing it altogether at this point seems a bit unrealistic. I manage it, maybe how another would manage their overspending.

However, I do make efforts. Here and there I actually do make appearances. Two holiday parties this year posed a new problem though. An early commitment to bring Salted Caramel Bacon Brownies to the department party was what some thought a guarantee of attendance. Amateurs.

Sure it upped the chances because I really always do aim for progress but my success rate is low at best. When asked each time if I was to attend I definitely said there was a 15% chance. I did make it to the official store wide Holiday event that unfortunately included watching two of the only guys I respected at the store go down in a drunken fighting and eventual firing mess. They were a nice gay couple from Sweden. A true pity.

There was a plan to actually get someone to drive my promised brownies to the 2nd event but that person also had issues and bailed. So, the next day I packed the bite sized beauties into festive bags and stuffed them into my biker bag and offered them up to my coworkers with apologies and lame but actually legitimate excuses for not showing up.

To me, these brownies are amazing, although some feedback was that they couldn't taste the bacon enough or they thought they would be saltier. Please read that last line in a mocking tone. I added 4 pieces of bacon, which was double the recipe. // And that recipe is awesome! Screw 'em and I'm not sorry I didn't go to that stupid party!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I Can't Tell Ya, Who to Sock It To

Once in a while I'll just crave my mom's enchilada sauce so bad that I have to get in that kitchen and make it right that second. This wasn't the enchilada sauce that she served up at my parent's restaurant. That sauce was amazing too actually. My sister knows how to make that one and I aim to figure it out too real soon. But the sauce my mom made for us at home was different. The enchiladas were also different. At the restaurant they were corn tortillas dipped in oil and the sauce then filled with onion and cheese, then heated in a toaster oven with more cheese and sauce on top. That wonderful hot plate was dressed with lettuce tomato and refried beans and rice.

At home, the corn torts were also quickly softened by dipping them for seconds in hot oil and then dipped in the house sauce, but after that they were filled with cold shredded mild cheddar cheese and freshly diced onions. That sauce was so good that you didn't need meat, you didn't need gooey melted cheese and its the only secret recipe that I might hold sacred. She doesn't even remember it now unfortunately with the dementia. I told her one time recently how she made it and she said to me 'Oh that sounds great, I've never heard of anyone doing that'. And I said 'You did it mom, you were the one who thought of that!'.

The way that she served them fresh like this with the cold elements of the lettuce, onion, cheese and tomatoes was a testament to her love of dishes that were crisp and light, not so heavy and fatty. My mom served up so many hot combination plates and vats of beans and rice and hot salsas for her customers but put her in a kitchen to prepare herself a meal and you'd most likely find simply a tomato, jalapeno, onion, and avocado being scooped up with a soft corn tortilla.

But this day I had chunks of salty pork that I pan fried until they were crispy and added that to the middle. I mistakenly bought these super thick corn torts so I steamed them instead of oil dipping them. I served myself up a healthy dose of a very pleasant past memory.

I don't have any children and no one will probably sit and around and think of what I liked to eat given choice. If I had to say I had a 'thing' it might be that I love meat but I like it small and crispy, almost charred bites or even bits. Crumbled bacon, tiny cubes of chorizo, crisped pepperoni slices, sausage broken up into marble sized balls and cooked thoroughly. Sprinkle any of those over a starchy food, along with cold tomato and onion and maybe a salsa of some kind and I would be pretty content.

It's Still Rock and Roll To Me

I'm always trying to lighten up dishes, you know so's I can eat more often. But I'm not pro taking out the good flavors and fats and exchanging them for something that just looks like the original. Steak fajitas made with inexpensive London Broil marinated in red wine and garlic. The torts were replaced with Flax Seed flat-bread. Another quick idea is to deglaze your steak pan with a bit of water and on high heat cook your frozen corn. When the water evaporates, add just a tad of butter. It tastes like it was on the grill and you can lay it atop your non fat corn meal masa to bring the whole thing to life without tons of calories but great flavors from the pan.