On a ‘meh’ streak

February 8, 2014

Mediocrity, chapter 1.

Mediocrity, chapter 1.

I’m losing my touch.

I have in the past three days cooked two new recipes which ought to have been killer, and one standby that is a tried and true, and none of them were worth seconds.

Sigh.

I won’t get my contract renewed, at this rate. I’ll throw a gopher ball every once in a while, but I’m not used to a string of less-than-damn-good meals. I will have to redouble efforts this weekend.

You will recall that Thursday, I had thawed pork chops. I was browsing Epicurious to determine what I might want to do with them, I had picked up several packages of assorted dried fruit. So when I saw a recipe for pork chops in balsamic cherry glaze, I figured that’d work.

You brown the salted and peppered pork chops in a skillet, deglaze by sauteeing an onion and adding some balsamic vinegar and chicken stock. Put the pork back in the skillet, and add dried cherries. Let the chops simmer until they’re tender. Simple enough, right?

Meh. They were OK. Just OK. Nothing to write home about. I roasted broccoli, which had (a) been in the fridge too long, a condition I exacerbated by (b) leaving it in the oven too long.

The home fries were good. At least.

So yesterday, I was contemplating what to cook for dinner. It was supposed to snow. I would have Amazing Grandchild 1 here at the house, so I didn’t want anything that couldn’t be left for a moment or three on the stove when she got out of sight and quiet. But I didn’t want a soup or stew, either.

Yeah, maybe I needd a bigger pot.

Yeah, maybe I needd a bigger pot.

Mediocrity, chapter 2.

Mediocrity, chapter 2.

Serious Eats’ recipe email recently had poule a’ pot, literally, chicken in a pot, a French dish featuring chicken stewed with butternut squash and potatoes. With sage and bacon. OK, that’s a combo of flavors I love. We’ll go there.

You brown bacon, then start to brown onion and garlic, then throw in white wine, chicken stock and the chicken. Fit the potatoes around the chicken, put the chopped up butternut squash on top, sprinkled it down with chopped sage, and clap a lid on it.

Should have been good. Wasn’t. Like the night before, it was OK.  Well, I take that back. The chicken was pretty good; more moist than an oven roasted one. But the butternut squash was too done, and the whole thing was bland. I could taste none of the bacon, though the sage flavor was good.

First off, after a freakin’ hour simmering, it was still bloody at the thigh joint when I checked it, so I stashed it in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. That fixed THAT, with crispy skin, to boot. The potatoes were OK, if not tremendously tasty. And the butternut squash was mushy and watery.

I kept the chicken, to recycle into something else later this weekend, and chunked the rest. Serious Eats, you let me down. Won’t be making that again.

And I didn't even do a good job on the biscuits. I quit.

And I didn’t even do a good job on the biscuits. I quit.

Today, I got up and meandered about the house playing with the AGC for a while, and decided I wanted a biscuit. So I made cheese biscuits, to have with bacon jam.

I am using a different brand of baking powder, because I was at a store and didn’t see my usual brand so I bought what they had. Note to self: That baking powder isn’t as salty as what I’m used to using. Biscuits wanted some salt. The asiago cheese, though, played nicely with the black pepper I had added, and was most excellent with bacon jam, albeit the biscuits would’ve been a good deal better with the addition of some salt.

I know you can’t win ’em all. But it’s cold, it’s nasty, it’s wintertime and most unpleasant, and I want to win at least ONE this weekend. I’m contemplating another run at chicken and dumplings, NOT gluten-free this time, and I picked up some lovely eggplants t’other day, so there may be eggplant parmigiano.

Hope you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em are staying warm. I’m about to bundle up on the couch, watch the Olympics, and snooze.

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