Well, hello, fall!

September 14, 2015

Lentil and smoked sausage ragu with oven fries. Fit for fall.

Lentil and smoked sausage ragu with oven fries. Fit for fall.

It isn’t, of course, yet. Not according to the calendar. But a gorgeous day with temps barely cracking 70, and a positive nip in the evening and early morning air, can surely make your thoughts turn to fall food.

And where thoughts turn, the kitchen can’t be far behind.

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Cheap eats

September 9, 2015

FEB15_EatDrink.inddAs National Hunger Month continues, it occurs to me it might be well to talk about a few of my tried-and-true favorites that will feed a family at a fairly low cost. It’s not really easy to feed a couple a full meal on five bucks, or a family of four on $10, but it can be done.

Meat is, obviously, the big expense factor in most meals. Often, the meat in a meal for one will top the $5 price tag. The keys to an inexpensive meal, then, are to make meat go further, use a more inexpensive meat, or explore alternative protein sources. All those can be done without sacrificing flavor.

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Pantry curry, with chicken, chickpeas and sweet potatoes.

Pantry curry, with chicken, chickpeas and sweet potatoes.

Over on Facebook, I’ve been busily promoting the fact that it’s National Hunger Month, and urging my Facebook friends and followers to do one activity each day aimed at reducing hunger. It all has to do with cooking and eating mindfully — with thoughtful consideration not only to what we’re eating (which certainly adds to our enjoyment of it), but to not being wasteful and squandering not just food, but the resources that went into its production.

So, today’s challenge was to cook meals solely out of what’s in the refrigerator, freezer or pantry. Now, granted, this is not a huge challenge for me, because I keep all three of those pretty well stocked (overstocked, my children would tell you). But I wanted to attempt to keep it relatively basic and use some leftovers as well.

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A step up for your grill

September 7, 2015

Chicken grilling away atop the new GrillGrates.

Chicken grilling away atop the new GrillGrates.

Grilling out for the holiday? I have two words for you.

Grill Grates.

Grill Grates, or GrillGrates, I’m not sure which is correct, are interlocking plates of anodized aluminum which sit atop your regular grill grate, elevating the food about an inch and, more importantly, putting a barrier between your food and those annoying flareups that char spots on your burger. They’re also magic or something, because food doesn’t stick to them, which had become a real problem with my old grill surface.

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Christmas is coming!

September 4, 2015

Bacon Jam means Christmas is comin'.

Bacon Jam means Christmas is comin’.

Yes, I know it is not yet Labor Day, let alone Halloween, and I am not breaking out the decorations and the Christmas carols. I’m getting older, but I ain’t senile. Yet.

But, I caught Child A out of town on a work trip last week, and decided I’d get the annual making of the bacon jam out of the way, as it involves frying three pounds of bacon and cooking significant quantities of onions, both of which smells drive her nuts. Yes, she’s an odd child. But she’s mine, and I love her.

Anyway, bacon jam is going to be one of the components of the holiday gift baskets this year, along with the tomato chutney and other stuff yet to be determined. Certainly pralines and toffee. Maybe fudge, although, having made fudge for Christmas for the past 20 years, I’m about tired of it. I’d like to find a good recipe for a savory biscuit or cracker, and make the baskets a mix of sweet and savory. And I can testify to the excellence of my bacon jam, so that’s a sure thing to go in them.

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Summer salad goodness

September 2, 2015

Off the top, I don’t have a photo of this. It’s not photogenic. It kinda looks like the cat threw it up. But it’s pretty good, and once I make a couple of alterations to what’s left of it, it’ll be pretty excellent.

I was coming off a couple of days of moderately queasy stomach, no doubt aggravated by a high-calorie, high-cholesterol, chock-full-o-grease breakfast splurge at Waffle House after a successful doc checkup/visit. And about noon today, I got hit with the fact I was about to starve, due in large part to the fact I had eaten next to nothing since said splurge more than 24 hours earlier. (Next to nothing constituting a handful of popcorn crackers and some candied peanuts last night, and granola and yogurt this morning.

I didn’t want a sandwich. I wanted something light. Something fresh. I didn’t want any of the copious leftovers I had in the fridge.

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Move over, cherries. It's peach season!

Move over, cherries. It’s peach season!

Anyone who’s ever attended a church pot luck in the South has partaken of cherry cheese pie. This simple and sublime concoction consists of sweetened condensed milk, cream cheese, vanilla and a little lemon juice, whipped together until it’s smooth, poured into a pie shell, and stuck in the fridge to firm up. After a few hours, it’s topped with some cherry pie filling,and then it’s ready to run a close race wtih the pecan pie for first empty dish on the dessert table.

Here’s a twist on that. Forget the cherries. Top that baby, instead, with a concoction of fresh peaches and a thick glaze.

Sweet Baby Jesus.

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