Category Archives: food

NEWS

Do you recall that the term means north, east, west and south? And that your local television only tells you about arson and murders in your own town? Forget the news part.

I’ve a one year-old buddy, a neighbor, who has grown leaps and bounds. Today I sent him a holiday note with greetings to his parents and his blind dog. I also gave him a stuffed animal, a narwhal, cousin to the beluga whale. It has a large tusk, think unicorn, going straight out from his face. I didn’t think any of his young friends have a “pet” narwhal.

Who’s Aunt Dee (to G and blind dog) to question? Today we got a “new” refrigerator. No, it was borrowed from someone else. Four times different specialists came in and attacked the problems of our ice maker that ceased to make ice and ruined our floors with leaking water.

Today they brought in an appliance from elsewhere. The doors were going the wrong way. I’ve rheumatoid arthritis for over 30 years and am convalescing from a fall. I cook, I need the refrigerator to be door-friendly so I can do so without walking into a hallway outside the kitchen to gain access to food items. There is something to be said for a kitchen triangle, a working space. If one must go to another room to access the refrigerator that is not acceptable to me.

In cooking mode I have to be able to work efficiently. They changed things out for me. When looking for a place to live, I look for a refrigerator that is cook-friendly, as I’ve had one where I had to stand at a window and jimmy myself between window and frig door to get a piece of cheese out of the frig.

If people don’t make space relative to efforts in the kitchen, chances are they missed everything else. Look at baseboards, paint, plumbing, electrical. Everything including attic, basement, foundation, termites. If they have a frig door that’s pointed the wrong way chance are they’re flippers or incompetent and doing everything else wrong. My brain says a big “no.” Do not live here, Dee. They changed the doors for me for a newer model. I’m hoping it works. Cheers, Dee

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Breakfast a Deux

I cook really good meals but sometimes I hit it out of the park, so to speak.

Yesterday I toasted housemade white bread (not from our house) until brown and crisp. Four eggs, two per pan, sunny-side, covered and seasoned with salt and pepper. While the eggs are cooking place the toast in an oven-proof pan and cover each with two slices of prosciutto (I used American, even American Speck), top with barely cooked eggs. Top that with freshly grated sharp Wisconsin (or another state or country) cheddar. Pop under the broiler for a few seconds and voila!

I should have made a salsa out of heirloom cherry tomatoes but thought that was gilding the lily. My husband loved it!

Oh, when I turn the oven to 375 I have to use the useless stove fan. Broiling is not possible as it turns on the smoke detector. Our office is five feet from the kitchen and as it has a closet it is designated a bedroom and must have smoke detectors. We tried to have a MYOP (Make Your Own Pizza night) for a family with two kids, 6 and 2.

I made the dough then taught the kiddos to make their own. I prepared 20 ingredients for toppings. The older boy wanted cheese only. His young sister tried everything and probably topped her personal pizza with ten ingredients, including spinach, goat cheese and olives! Is she Greek?

The smoke detector hurt their ears, it went off every couple of minutes and my husband would have to wave a towel or pillow at it and open windows and doors… yes, the oven is clean. The architecture is flawed.

Bad news. Our ice maker has been on the fritz for weeks and tended by three different technicians. Yesterday I sent a thank-you note. This morning there is no ice and I’m sopping up water on the floor with “dog towels.” As some witty person once said, “it’s deja vu all over again.” Back to the drawing board, Dee! Cheers.

Cloves

That goes in the arena of culinary mishaps. I’ve made a few major gaffes, especially before I got a culinary degree.

My cousin will never let me live down the uncooked “roasted” chicken I made him in a tiny apartment stove/oven. The pilot light went out and the skin looked gorgeous but the meat was raw. I re-lit the pilot, carved the chicken and sauteed it until done on the two-burner stove. Decades later he tells my siblings “your sister tried to kill me.”

I was living and working on the east coast and my family moved out west. I went to visit for the holidays and decided to cook them dinner from a very famous cookbook. The Bolognese sauce included 1/8 tsp. of cloves. I served the dinner and everyone said “cloves.” I made up my recipe from then on and have had no complaints, even when I make Moussaka and use cinnamon. Ok, that’s an error as well as I made it for guests so I could make it in advance so we could enjoy said guests. My husband hates eggplant. I’ve not made it since but am thinking of making it with zucchini as the “pasta” layers rather than grilled eggplant.

Mom and I went to a farmers’ market before I was married. I found this lovely little plant called Thai Chili. I was visiting family again and making a chicken chili, still before cooking school. I didn’t have an idea then as to Scoville Units, like Jalapeno is 3,000 – 5,000 and Habanero is about 300,000. Now ghost peppers are way out there.

I used 1/4 of what was in the recipe and no-one could eat it. For the next day or two I put in potatoes, carrots, everything but the kitchen sink but it was inedible. No, I didn’t give it to my former dog, she would have died right then and there.

Given one French and one Italian cooking school, I’ve not made grave errors since. There are actually successes and folks like my food. They actually say “Dee’s a chef.” I wouldn’t go so far, I’m a good cook that likes to cook for my family and entertain sometimes (when my husband doesn’t ask can we have so-and-so come over in 1/2 hour)?

Unless someone he knows and likes regularly comes over to see what I’m making for dinner, that’s a no, dear. I’m known to pick 5-6 cookbooks to open on my bed to come up with a menu. Then there are lists and shopping and prep. No, dear. Cheers and happy cooking! Dee

Blog and Blog Again

That is my density (remember the first Back To The Future movie).

Pursuit. Sixteen years ago I met the man with whom I wished to spend the rest of my life.  No, I never told him so! We met all the folks, eloped and will celebrate 15 years married in January, which is also the 14th anniversary of our young, sick pup who we rehabilitated from the shelter. Even systematically took out her hips at age six and nine months because she had the worst hip dysplasia her surgeon had ever seen. As my husband is a physicist his cousin, her surgeon cleaned and kept the first hip bone for our perusal.

Never chase. Be chased. As far as jobs were concerned I just showed up for the interview and they tried to sell me on it.  If it worked, it worked. I did make one error, a woman who took me to a fancy NYC hotel for breakfast and she ended up being the boss from he!!. That was two years of trials but I quit and used the money I’d saved to go to cooking school. A gift from a friend l came later on was a week south of Florence, Italy for another cooking school. Both were the most fun education I’ve ever had.

Always let a dog or cat come to you. They will pursue you and be calmer, happier and desire to be near you. Never pick them up and make them sit on your lap. Do what you are doing, whether knitting or watching an old episode of ER. They want your attention. As John Lennon (if you’re too young, he led a little band called The Beatles) said, I am the Walrus. Shades of Pale from Procol Harum. Pursuit.

My husband said he could not date me, when he was away after a week. It was the dot-bomb era and the board left info on the white board that ended with “fire staff.” Everyone saw it and went home for the weekend to live in agony awaiting the axe. He went to live with his folks for two weeks and came back and his neighbor asked why he returned. He simply said, “her.” Yes, that was me.

Oh, I had to hire and pay for maids to clean his place (string cheese in individual wrappers between the frig and dual-brained computer he built) in his man-cave apartment with the black drapes behind the mail boxes. I also found him/us a place to live 1,000 feet from mine, now called the Barbie House. Yes, I did passively pursue, but mostly through food. His grandmother now says that is looking happy and must be eating well. That is what nearly 20 years has done. He was skinny at the time. We eat healthily but age creeps up. Cheers! Dee

ps We’ve never lived in a man cave. Hey he met me! I need a view, keep our place clean (not me all these years later) and cook for him and do all the paperwork. You wouldn’t even want to know the “rules” of Barbie and how to deal with all the stairs. Leave something to take up and pick it up and put it away. I’ve done 34 steps twice to do your laundry and I live 1,000 feet away! Ok, I did a few of my things too, that was part of the deal. Dee

 

 

Prior Engagement

I can’t go on a trip with my husband because I’ve a prior commitment. We were looking forward to it. I had my dates wrong.

Dreams of museums swam through my head. He would have no time to spend with me, but I could have seen my brother. I haven’t seen him for over eight months, since Dad’s funeral.

Last night when I told him I couldn’t be there he said it was OK. I told him I wanted to see him and have pastrami and he said no can do. So I’ve researched it and it’s a “can do.” Perhaps if we plan it I can spend two days and we can do our museums and deli. We’ll see, Dee

Childhood and Food

I couldn’t sleep so saw a few moments of a show that was telling me chef’s favorite memories of childhood. I’ll do you one better, good and bad. As far as I’m concerned there are taste and sense memories like the smell of chocolate chip cookies in the oven. The smell of cookies and vanilla is a time-tested trick of the real estate agent.

Then there are family memories of dinners together, and then special events like birthdays. Mom’s gone nine years and no-one has her recipe for the birthday cake she made each of us, including herself, every year as we grew. It was a pecan layer cake with two types of chocolate frosting. I believe those were the best days we had with family. Birthday kid got to choose the meal as well. I only remember the cake, and I don’t do dessert because Mom and my sisters were so good at it I had to cook, not bake. My brother is a good cook, too, and he didn’t even go to school for it!

I hated bologna sandwiches. When Mom didn’t have time to make me lunch for school (a bologna sandwich) she would give me tokens, $.35 for a hot lunch at the cafeteria, $.02 for milk. I always had a penny so would pay a cent extra for chocolate milk. They usually had what they called Salisbury steak. Pity that town in England. It was awful.

In high school I ate my first “tater tot!”  Good. Later I got to choose and would have a slice of pizza (just dollars, no tokens any more) and packet of Twinkies. Great diet for an athlete! I’ll bet the Twinkies are still in me, with their incredible shelf life.

In college for breakfast in the caf I ate Cocoa Puffs with chocolate milk. Then I moved to an apartment, cooked real food for everyone and never touched a dish. My roommates were shocked that one could make brownies or a dish from dried pasta that didn’t come from a box. I said I’d cook if they set the table, did dishes before and after dinner, and shopped my grocery list.

Our list of hungry neighbors increased so I was cooking for at least 12 for dinner every evening. Shopping list said 50# bag of potatoes for the week. They brought back cans of potatoes because they were on sale. So much for that. From then on I had the list and the cart and pointed to what I needed.

I never liked rice pudding. Mom made it and I wouldn’t eat it. I think it was a textural thing, combined with rice going with dinner, not dessert. That was as a little kid. Yesterday I made Quiche Lorraine that my husband loved. Also a tart with cooked apples, cinnamon, peaches and blueberries.

I like most things, not octopus, texture. It is a blessing for me to be able to cook for family and friends. Cheers! Dee

Arancini

My favorite Italian grocery has OO flour, that I usually use for my pizza dough. Yesterday I wanted to taste my first arancino and the deli guy said the meat was better than the vegetarian one. My husband has a lunch today and I’ve mine, leftovers in the best way.

In Scotland one has the “Scotch Egg” that is a boiled egg covered with sausage, breading and fried.

In Italy one has something in the middle, usually meat, covered with cooked rice and fried and served with tomato sauce. It was delicious!

I am certain that every nation and culture has their version of a fried meatball. It is sad that I waited all these years of culinary exploration to try arancini, just because I didn’t mentally understand it. This is the place we get our pasta, cheeses, sandwiches and I never found a place in my heart for arancini. It’s there now! Cheers, Dee