More cooking in someone else’s kitchen

January 17, 2010

NOTE: The Help for Haiti donor total is up close to $90. Push it up a little further by going back to Friday’s post and making a comment. Be sure to tell me if you’ve donated to any Haiti relief efforts; I’ll donate 50 cents a comment, but it goes to a buck if you tell me you’ve donated as well. (I’m trusting you to tell me the truth. ) And I really, really hope some of you will enjoy some of the other things you read, and come back again.

I have made a discovery.

Corn meal mix does NOT decent polenta make.

I decided to cook a big breakfast for myself and the recovering friend, who didn’t feel up to eating but did consume a piece of toast and some jello before heading back to bed. No potatos in the house (how do people LIVE?). And I had my mouth set for an over-easy egg over … something.

OK, not over potatos. So off to her pantry I go, where I find several boxes of Jiffy cornbread mix, to which I give a pass, because (a) I know it has flour in it and (b) that stuff is sweetened and that’s just Wrong, on so many counts I won’t even go into it. But be advised you should never sweeten your cornbread.  I believe it’s still illegal in some parts of the South, and if it’s not, it should be. I kept pawing through the pantry, spaniels at my heels (Whatcha cookin’? Huh? Huh? Can we help?) until I discovered an opened, one-pound bag of cornmeal, occupying a gallon ziploc with a two-pound bag of flour.

Do you get the idea not much baking goes on in this house? I don’t think she reads my blog, as she has a full-time job and is going to grad school (seminary), but if she does, she’s agreeing with me right now, and I will catch hell from her later. Although she does bake hellaciously good Christmas cookies.

Anyway, I snatched the cornmeal, boiled the water, whisked in the cornmeal….and noticed tiny little lumps forming in what HAD been a nice, smooth beginning to polenta. And I looked at the bag again. And it said “corn meal MIX.” The self-rising, enriched kind, yet.

Sumbitch. Well, at that point, I’d started, and I figured I’d finish; maybe it would be OK. So I lowered the heat, whisked it occasionally, let the bubbles bloop away while I cooked the rest of breakfast (country sausage, toast, the egg). Stirred in some butter and cheese to finish it. Spooned out a nice portion, and ceremoniously topped it with a just-perfect over-easy egg.

And made my discovery. Actually two of them.

You cannot make polenta with cornmeal mix, as it tastes like a mixture of polenta and wallpaper paste. And it’ll ruin a perfectly good over easy egg.

Breakfast was only redeemed by the absolutely wonderful Petit Jean Farms country sausage, one of the three pounds of same I picked up this Friday when my order finally got delivered. I am really sorry for all of you who don’t live in Central Arkansas and thus don’t have access to this stuff, because? It is To Die For. And the Apple Barn apple butter on whole wheat toast. I will not starve.

On another topic, since I was speaking of Petit Jean Farms; after they fouled up my order for last Friday, they delivered this past Friday. A pound of ground lamb, two lamb shanks and three pounds of sausage, for $30. I thought that was a pretty decent price. All honest-to-God organic, free-range, the whole nine yards. They also have milk and eggs (I have not gotten to the point that I require free-range eggs or milk, particularly not as many eggs as I use and those babies 4 bucks a dozen), honey (which I have purchased, and it’s good), beef and pork as well as other lamb cuts.

And Friday they were handing out samples of a new product — 3-month and 6-month sheep’s milk cheese. I wasn’t overly crazy about the six-month — a little sharp for me — but oh, that three-month stuff! It was wonderful, and I WILL be ordering it!

I haven’t had any of PJF’s beef, nor of their other pork or lamb cuts; my purchases had been limited to their sausage and once, their bacon, with which I was disappointed because it wasn’t cured and tasted like fresh side meat (since that’s what it was). And that was NOT what I wanted. But I’d been hankering to try lamb shanks, and I figured, what the heck, I’d give these a try.

I also have to get hold of some beef short ribs. I have of late been perusing the Tasty Kitchen section of the Pioneer Woman blog, and someone posted a recipe for Hungarian short ribs that involves a boatload of paprika and tomatos. I can’t see anything but absolute goodness coming out of that combo, so I’m going to try it.

Meanwhile, I’m going to do a few things around here, take a shower, pack my bag and get ready to head home mid-afternoon.


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