Ahhhhh, spring. Tomatoes. Other fresh veggies. Bountiful.

And how did it get to be 10 days since I’ve posted?

Well, I was on the road for four of ’em. And poorly with a stomach bug for two or three more. But I have finally gotten the notion back to be in the kitchen, inspired in large part by this haul from the Farmers’ Market this morning.

There will be BLTs, yes, there will. And can I just tell you, I am contemplating getting in the kitchen Right Now and sauteeing up that yellow squash with some onions? And I may yet do that for dinner. Squash and sliced tomato. Who needs anything else? Yes, it’ll be fresh veggie time for a few days.

There were no exceptional road food meals. Pizza one night. A music festival cheeseburger (cold) one night. An eminently forgettable dinner at a meeting in Memphis one night. I think I had pork tenderloin and something.

I’ve cooked a good deal of asparagus the past two or three weeks. Made a very tasty slaw with blanched, cut spears, raw sugar snaps, sliced up, and slivered carrots; dressing was oil, vinegar and sugar. Plain, simple, good. Added some corn kernels to it the next day and that was pretty good, too. I got what may likely be the last asparagus of the season today at the market, and I’m thinking I may reprise that salad, putting corn kernels in from the get-go this time. It lasts, and it’s always good to have around, and it’d just be primo on some of those sliced ripe tomatoes.

Cucumbers are going to get marinated up as cucumber, onion and tomato salad. I may go with an Asian flavor profile for that dressing — rice vinegar, soy sauce, a splash of sesame oil, a little mirin, some ginger, maybe a little honey (or maybe not).

Next weekend, I am cooking for a pot-luck picnic with my high school graduating class. I’m thinking a smoked pork loin, using some of those new potatoes for a salad with thyme, olive oil and vinegar dressing, and some cut-up boiled eggs. Some of the strawberries are going in a strawberry cheesecake, which will go in the freezer. Also on that menu may be some jail slaw, as I have a head of cabbage lounging around that wants to be used.

Today, I’ve cooked for the soup kitchen — three 10-pound hams, which were decimated. Three gallons of green beans. Two vats (about two gallons each, I’d guess) of mac and cheese. A big bowl of pasta salad. Always wears me out, but doggone, it’s a good tired. Especially when I look at the 40-plus people who got a good meal, many of whom took a carryout home with them so they’ll have another one tomorrow.

If you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em have big plans for the holiday weekend, let me know about ’em. And be careful on the highways.

 

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Love for leftovers

May 9, 2018

Leftovers to look forward to: Fried rice.

Sometimes, it just all comes together.

I had the asparagus, corn and shrimp from the previous post. I had white rice from the other night’s less-than-spectacular orange chicken.

I always have eggs. One can do a helluva lot with eggs.

I sauteed some ginger and garlic in canola oil, tumped in the rice. Broke it all up and got it coated with the oil. Added about half the corn/asparagus/shrimp mixture. Splashed it with some soy sauce, some mirin, some sesame oil. Boom. Quickie fried rice.

Dished that up, and fried a couple of eggs; over the top they went.

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Hip-pocket gourmet

May 8, 2018

These four things, plus butter, are all you need.

We’ve all had them. You learn at 4 p.m. you’re having guests for dinner. You have nothing thawed. You are at work. They will be there at six. Carryout is probably not advisable (it’s your inlaws, or worse yet, your inlaws to be, or your boss, or your spouse’s boss, or….you get my drift).

Whaddya do?

You do this.

You stop by the grocery and pick up the following:

  • A pound of asparagus
  • Four ears of sweet corn
  • A one-pound bag of frozen, cooked, peeled shrimp (salad size is fine)
  • A package of fresh tarragon from the produce counter’s herb selection
  • A nice baguette
  • Salad fixings

I’m going to trust you have butter in the fridge. If you don’t, get that, too.

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A stovetop full of cookware!

Isn’t it PRETTY? I’m fixin’ to break it in with dinner tonight, and see how good it cooks.

My mis-matched, picked up here and there cookware has gone home with Child C, and my brand new Paderno is occupying pride of place atop my stove, where I can look at it.

For the record, the above is what $1,000 worth of cookware looks like. Well, $1,000 Canadian, which comes out to about $775 US, and let me guarantee you I paid nowhere near THAT for it. And the only reason I have it at all is due to the good offices of an online friend I know through the eGullet cooking forum, who ordered it for me, and then turned around and shipped it to me in Arkansas.

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That’s egg porn if I’ve ever seen it. Yummmmmmm!

When one has fresh asparagus, one enjoys it in a variety of ways. One of my favorite ways is dressed, very simply, with a couple of over-easy eggs.

This stuff is simplicity in itself. You prep some asparagus; break the woody bottoms off the stalks, peel the bottom two or three inches. Toss them in a medium hot skillet with a pat of butter and a splash of olive oil. Saute them until they start to blister, shaking the skillet periodically to turn them over. Scoop them out when they’re just crisp-tender, and slide them on a plate. Add a bit more butter to the skillet, if you need to, and fry yourself two eggs.

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M’mm h’mmm. Not hatin’ on your favorite Mexican restaurant, but this is GOOD.

Since we’re Cinco-de-Mayo-ing, or Cinco-ing-de-Mayo, it’s time we had taco night. Not Mexican restaurant (you can’t throw a rock up here without hitting one) taco night, although there are some good ones. But throwback, down home, taco night.

So you make tacos.

One dices up and sautes an onion and some garlic. One throws in a pound of ground beef, some salt, some pepper, some cumin, some of one’s favorite chile powder(s) (I use guajillo, because it’s not real, real hot, and it has a nice complexity of flavor). Or, in the alternative, one adds an envelope of taco seasoning mix from the grocery (I won’t judge you; I won’t do it, but I won’t judge you).  Turn the heat down and let the meat cook until all the water evaporates out of it; add a tad (a couple of tablespoons) of tomato sauce or paste, or buzz up a couple of spoonsful of salsa with your stick blender, and stir it in. Turn it off and stick it on the back of the stove to keep warm.

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Wish this had tasted as good as it looks.

Get a good look at it. You’re not likely to see it again.

It wasn’t bad…it just wasn’t particularly good. Not nearly as good as the little bundles of baby green things looked like they’d be.

They look like greens, but they taste like cabbage. Which is OK. I like cabbage. As directed, I stir-fried them in miso and ginger just until barely wilted. Flavor was good, but they were TOUGH. How is a baby vegetable tough? And what in the world would its grown up version taste like? Nope, thank you, not trying that again, I don’t think.

The pork was tenderloin, in char siu sauce. I have learned I am not crazy about jarred char siu sauce, as it has a heavy dose of five-spice powder in it, and it’s real easy to overdo me on five-spice powder. You got to go pretty light on the star anise to suit me, and this sauce…didn’t. I have tenderloin left, but I think I may slice it, glaze it in plain ol’ hoisin sauce, and warm it up in the CSO.

I had happened up on tenderloins at Kroger at $2.99  pound, so I bought two packages. They got separated, one cooked, and the other three are vac-packed in the freezer. One is bound for curing and making English style “long back” bacon. One may get cured and an attempt made at lomo. One is bound for the smoker. I wish I’d bought more, but it’ll be on sale again.

The coconut rice was quite excellent. Cook however much rice you want; replace the water with a can of coconut milk plus however much water you need to make up the liquid you need for the amount you’re cooking. Add a teaspoon and a half of salt (I cooked two cups of rice), and a tablespoon of sugar. Oh, and I used Jasmine rice, which is pretty much my default rice these days.

The wonderful thing about this rice? The next day, get it out of the fridge. Add another can of coconut milk to it, along with however much milk it needs to come to the right texture, and heat it gently. Throw in a handful of golden raisins, or dried cherries or cranberries, or chopped dates or figs. Season with a teaspoon of turmeric, a quarter-teaspoon of nutmeg, a half-teaspoon of cinnamon, a teaspoon of cardamom. Heat over medium low heat until fruit is rehydrated and rice is warm. Serve warm or at room temperature, or even chilled, for breakfast or dessert.

So, so much for THAT attempt to broaden the veggie horizons. Check bok choy off the bucket list. You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em stand by for the endive.