Wednesday, October 31, 2007

If you like cheese, or are curious about cheese you've got to see this site,
365 Cheeses it is truly worthwhile, subjective descriptions, but also has lots of objective info as well.

Friday, October 26, 2007

From Another Blog

I just read this blog at Amateur Gourmet and thought it was worth sharing here.

Spanish Squash

To accompany the Chicken and Chorizo I wanted a nice vegetable dish, so I came up with this:

6-8 small yellow zucchini 3/4 to 1 " in diameter, or 2-3 larger cut into 1/2 " slices


1/2 -1 Tsp Sherry Vinegar

2-3 oz grated Sole Gran Queso cheese

Smoked salt to taste

Place the squash, EVOO, and sherry vinegar in a bowl, and mix to marinate. Add smoked salt, found at Spices, ETC to taste. Now place the mix in a small casserole, baking dish, and place the grated cheese on the top. Put the dish in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1/2 hour. This will give you a nice al dente dish.

The family doesn't tolerate onions well, so there were none in the recipe. If I were making this for myself, I would slice an entire onion and saute it until caramelized and add it to the dish. With 1 tsp of vinegar there was a slight vinegar presence, if I were to make it again, I'd use 1/2 tsp instead. If I added onions, I'd leave it at 1 tsp.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Chicken/Chorizo Casserole

I get RSS feeds from cooking sites, and I recently saw a post about Chicken and chorizo, which interested me, so I decided to make it. The original recipe which came from 80 Breakfasts . Now she didn't follow the original recipe, as she added beans. I'm making it for the family tonight, and they have specific likes, and dislikes, as do I, so here is how I decided to make it, based upon her modifications. Here is my first example of how "cooks" see the world of cooking, I'm making it MY Chicken and Chorizo, by making it a casserole with a Spanish base, and American interpretation.

1 Lb. Chorizo Sausage

1 Lb. Chicken

1 cup whole grain rice

1 can beans

1 1LB pkg. Frozen Organic Corn

2-1/2 cups Low sodium organic chicken broth

2 Tbs EVOO

several threads saffron

3 cloves fresh garlic

1 tsp. Pimenton (sweet smoked paprika)

1 Fresh Lemon

In a large casserole that can be placed on a burner on the stove place the EVOO, and heat on medium, then add the rice and stir to brown. This increases the flavor of the rice, gives it a different texture that feels and tastes nutty. When it is browned, add crushed garlic, and stir, now add the chicken broth. Grill the chicken, I used unbreaded chicken tenders, but you can use whatever fresh or frozen chicken you have. Now do the same for the chorizo. After the pieces have cooled, slice on the diagonal into bite size pieces and set aside. Now add a couple of threads of saffron for color, the pimenton for flavor, the beans with liquid, then the meat, and then the frozen corn. Place the lemon, thin sliced, across the top. Now place in a preheated 350 degree oven for approximately one hour, with a tight fitting cover until rice is tender. Uncover, and cook for an additional 15 minutes to brown.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Roasted Garlic

I've always loved garlic, and frequently joke that I'd put it in anything, including tapioca pudding. It is very healthy for you, increases circulation, has anti-bacterial properties, and truly enhances flavors in cooking in a truly elegant way. Known as the Stinking Rose it is truly unique in the culinary world.

As I write this, I can smell it's luscious aroma, as I roast several heads in the oven. It is simple to do, and oh so good. Simply select several heads, cut the tops off, and place in a garlic roaster, or aluminum foil, pour some EVOO over each head, and place in a preheated 425 degree oven for 45 minutes.

When it is completed you can simply squeeze a clove into your mouth, or use it as a spread for bread, add it to mashed potatoes, add it to any cream type soup, or bisque at the end to add another layer of flavor, or anything else that comes to mind.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A New Cheese

I found Sole Gran Queso at Costco today. It is a dry, semi-hard, rich, delicate cheese that should go well with wine. I'll come up with more ideas with a Spanish theme as time goes on. Two thoughts, Chorizo, and Serrano ham.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Found this, love it:

The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© Copyright Kent M. Keith 1968, renewed 2001

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Learning To Cook

I grew up in the home of an uninspired cook. We had food allergies, so Mom cooked without spices, she was highly allergic to garlic, so I never had any until I was an adult. She was also uninspired as a cook, she cooked because she had to, not because she enjoyed it. I've always described her as that person who cooked zucchini to the consistency of oatmeal mush.

My dad did not cook, but he was an adventurous eater. He always said he'd try anything once, and that's what he modeled for us. So from Dad, I got the idea that there was more out there, and that it could be fun.

I joined the Army right out of high school in 1961, and started being exposed to new food. Before I was ever assigned overseas, I had the privilege of reading the "Ugly American" which basically taught me that other cultures had their own value, and should be accepted as being different, and to honor those differences. Basically, I learned not to make value judgments based upon my biases, but to value the differences.

Therefore, when I was assigned to Viet Nam in early 1962, one of the 3000 military advisor's President Kennedy sent, I was prepared to try new things. Including Bahn Mi Thit , Vietnamese Spring Rolls,noodle soups, and the best prawns I've ever had. These prawns were the size of a hand.

In 1963 I was transferred to San Antonio, TX for my training as a social worker where I continued to try new things, including Pearl Beer. I then moved to Ft. Leonard Wood, MO with exposure to more new foods. This was where I first had biscuits and sausage gravy, again, the best I've ever had.

In 1965 I was transferred to Nurnberg, Germany, where I spent 3 years. I spent time at Gasthauses which traditionally provided lodging, food, and spirits. I didn't speak much German, and Mootie (mother) didn't speak much English, but I was able to convince her I wanted whatever the GI's were not eating. So she fed me as a member of the family, and took great pleasure in introducing me to many foods I never otherwise would have been exposed to.

During my 3 years in Europe, I also visited Amsterdam twice where I learned about Steak Tartar, and Spain once where I was introduced to the pleasures of Mediterranean foods, especially squid and octopus, prepared in a myriad of ways.

In 1969, upon my discharge from the Army I briefly moved back in with my parents until I could get established. Several months later I rented a room from a young woman, and her son that I had picked up hitchhiking several times. That's the way we did things in the 60's, in Berkeley. As soon as I landed in my new room it occurred to me that I had never cooked, and that if I was going to be on my own, I'd better learn to do so.

Being a lifelong reader, I went to the local bookstore, and asked what the "bible" of cooking was. I was shown the "Joy of Cooking", and the "Betty Crocker Cookbook". After evaluating them both, I chose the Joy. I've always loved Beef Stew, so I looked up the recipe, and then went and purchased the ingredients. The recipe called for turnips, in addition to the onions, potatoes, and carrots. Once it was cooked I tasted it, it was horrid.

I discovered that I detested the taste of cooked turnips. At this point, I had an epiphany, I discovered that a recipe is simply the way some other cook has successfully made a dish, once, and that if you don't like it that way, just modify it. So I threw the offending stew away, and remade it the way I thought it should be. It was delicious.

At that moment, I became a cook.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Quote

"Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome." Isaac Asimov

Some Reading

If some of the things I've just said above interest you in further reading about the topic, I read "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" earlier this year, and you might find it of interest as well. The book is written by Barbara Kingsolver, One of my favorite authors. She and her family decided to spend a year eating only what they could produce themselves, or purchase locally. I found their story inspiring, informative, and a little quirky.

The Organic Choice

It has always made sense to me, this organic thing. Looking at the pale imitations of tomato like foods found behind the counter at Subway, your local salad bar, the local Wal-Mart produce isle, it is an easy comparison to what you can pull out of the ground, and what Sysco/Food Service Of America supply us with. The appearance, the taste, the mouth feel are just so sublimely different.

We pay a price for convenience. The convenience of not having to plant, cultivate, water, harvest, and clean from one's own plot, or the plot of a neighbor is found in the quality of fruits and vegetables described above. The cost of transporting them 100's, if not thousands of miles. The lack of choices in what is available. The price we pay in the need for increasing chemicals as pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, just to maintain the same yield. Not to mention the negative impact of these chemicals on our environment, the watershed, the air quality, and the developed weaknesses of growing produce in this fashion.

The business of producing, and distributing food has simply become an industrial process, and I don't mean that in a good way. What becomes important in industrial food is not it's inherent quality, it's goodness, but rather the cheapness of it's production, and the shelf life, that will make it profitable for the business. One example of this might be the increasing number of recalls of food products that are making people sick, and in some cases, killing them. This is what happens when profit wins out over quality.

So as our nation continues down the road of simple preparation, or no preparation we all pay a high price for this convenience in the descending quality of health of our lives. At least this is the way I see it. Now I'm not proposing that everyone go back to farming all their own food, or never eating out, or preparing industrial food,but I do think it will be helpful if we all take a step back, look at what we're doing, and how well it is working.

My interest here is in sharing my ideas, recipes, tools that work, and procedures in the hope that others can have fun, eat better tasting, more nutritious food, save money, and did I mention have fun?

To Begin

Many times, through the years I've thought about blogging, but rejected the idea, for any number of reasons. I am still reluctant/ambivalent about doing so, but have decided to give it a go. There is a delete blog button, so how can I lose?

One day when I was 13 or so I decided to help with the gardening, so I took some Ammonium Nitrate that dad had laying around, and proceeded to spread it around the garden, and then watered it in. The next day, as I came out to inspect my handiwork, I discovered that I had "burned" everything up. Everything had turned brown, I had chemically burned all the plant matter out of ignorance. Then and there I decided there had to be a better way.

This was 1956, just about the time that a Berkeley citizen by the name of Rachel Carson was writing a book titled "Silent Spring", so I wonder if I might have been channeling her right from the start, because I have done my best to live organically since that time.