Sunday dinner

November 6, 2016

Today's dinner menu: Essence of South. And no, I don't put gravy ON my CF steak. Just the potatoes.

Today’s dinner menu: Essence of South. And no, I don’t put gravy ON my CF steak. Just the potatoes.

It’s an odd thing.

I can, on a whim, cook Mexican, Asian, North African or any of a number of other regionally-inspired cuisines. (Maybe not WELL, but I have at least the makings on hand.) But when it comes to Sunday dinner, I’m coming back home.

Specifically, when it’s time for Sunday dinner, I’m going to cook where I came from: The American South. Now, in part, that’s because the Sunday dinner table list generally includes Child C and SIL 2, who have come to retrive AGC2, who hopefully is napping by the time they get here after church. And while Child C will try most anything, she’s more comfortable and happy with home cooking. And SIL 2 — well, bless his heart, his culinary tree doesn’t branch much.

So I stick to the tried-and-true stuff on Sunday. Today, I hit it out of the park.

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Thinking about Christmas….

November 4, 2016

holiday-basket…baskets, that is.

Long-time readers will recall that I make annual Christmas baskets, collections of goodies, for gifts for some family and friends. It’s about the time of year I start thinking about what’s going to go in those baskets.

Yes, I know it’s hard to think about Christmas when it’s 80 degrees outside and you still have tomatoes on your vines. I can’t help global warming. Work with me, here.

I’m thinking this year’s baskets are going to lean toward the savory, a turn of mind inspired when I canned jalapeno peppers someone gave me last week. Such pretty, Christmasy-looking things they were.

Well, why not? Maybe not pickled jalapenos, but something leaning in that direction?

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My Mama’s recipe box

November 3, 2016

A box full of memories -- and love.

A box full of memories — and love.

I’ve been traveling through time this morning.

A few weeks ago, an old family friend asked if I had my Mama’s recipe for candied sweet potatoes. I told her I would bet it was in Mama’s recipe box, which I had…somewhere.

Except I couldn’t find it.

I thought it was residing in my cookbook bookcases somewhere, but I went through those and couldn’t locate it. I looked around in the kitchen, didn’t see it there. But a week or so ago, I came back from being out of town and Child A had it sitting prominently atop the bar. She’d been cleaning, and she found it wedged behind some other books.

So today, as my plans had been curtailed by babysitting duties for an ailing AGC2 (stomach bug, and fortunately, it appears to have been only a light case), I decided to go through it.

It was like being a kid in Benton County, Tennessee again.

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Yes, well, I do still exist, and I do have a kitchen. Here are a few odds and ends that have been traipsing through it.

I picked tomatoes Monday. On Halloween. I still have green tomatoes, and may perhaps get a few more ripe ones before it gets cold the end of this week. (So the weatherpeople say. I’m not real sure I believe them.)

But there's no global warming...oh, no!

But there’s no global warming…oh, no!

As I had them, and needed to use them, I figured I’d convert them into tomato sauce or soup or something. I cut them up, along with the last few of the Farmers Market tomatoes I had on the counter, tossed them all into a pot with some diced onion and some garlic, and set them to cooking. When the tomatoes started to break down, I added some sherry; at that point, I was heading in the direction of soup.

I decided soup wasn’t really what I wanted, so after that simmered a while, I added some basil and a little oregano and went looking for my immersion blender, having forgotten that it seems to have taken feet and walked away. (How in the name of God do you lose an immersion blender?). So I wound up transferring it all to the big blender and pureeing it. It needed the addition of some tomato juice to thin it down, so I did that.

It’s a quite lovely sauce. It’s in the fridge. I’ll get in a pasta mood eventually, or I’ll freeze it.

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Still souping

October 26, 2016

Disclaimer. Photo from the Epicurious recipe I riffed off of. Looks pretty close.

Disclaimer. Photo from the Epicurious recipe I riffed off of. Looks pretty close.

I’m going to have to stop making soup. At present, I have on hand:

  1. The remains of the posole from last week.
  2. The remains of the beef stew from Monday.
  3. The big honkin’ pot of shrimp bisque I made last night and then didn’t want to eat dinner.

Got to quit. Not to mention it got hot again; 80 today.

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Fall favorite: Beef stew

October 24, 2016

Beef stew over grits. Fall comfort food.

Beef stew over grits. Fall comfort food.

OK, so it was 80 today, I ran around in yoga pants and a T-shirt, and the Amazing Grandchild (whom I have again tonight because his mama has strep throat) went to pre-school in shorts.

Screw it. I made beef stew.

Quite GOOD beef stew, I might add.

There was some discussion on eGullet t’other day about chuck roasts and the cooking of same, and i got to thinking about the beef that needed to be cleared out of the freezer and decided I’d thaw a chuck roast. Thawed it Sunday with no real plan for what to do with it, but I also had these really pretty mushrooms. And little potatoes. And carrots. And plenty of red wine.

Yep, time for beef stew.

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International soup

October 23, 2016

Tom yum soup with a poached egg -- tom yummy!

Tom yum soup with a poached egg — tom yummy!

I made my trip to the international market pay off with some soup the other day, ¬†when I’d neglected to eat lunch until it was almost time to get ready to go to an early evening meeting.

Not wanting to deal with a growling stomach during said meeting, I decided to make a quick soup.

I had rice noodles; I had tom yum (hot and sour) paste; I had dried shiitake mushrooms. That’d work.

I boiled the rice noodles for just a couple of minutes, then drained them and rinsed in hot water, then dumped them in a bowl. More water in the pot, and in went a handful of dried shiitakes and four tablespoons of tom yum paste. Boiled THAT for another two of three minutes, and cracked an egg into the pot so it could poach. Gave that three minutes, and then gently poured it over the noodles.

Good stuff. I’ll do that again. Would have been even better had I cubed up some of the tofu I got to make ma po tofu, which I will attempt sometime next week, maybe. But I have lots of tom yum paste, and tofu is easy to get.

Asian noodle soups are great lunch dishes — quick, healthy, tasty. Probably full of every chemical known to modern man, but, oh, well. I have on hand the stuff to make pho and miso soups. (Now, if I could just master a good tom yum soup, I’d call myself successful.) I learned to eat miso soup with noodles and a poached egg for breakfast when I was in Japan, and I found that pretty good.

Speaking of eggs, my egg lady’s chickens apparently have gone on strike. I had to buy grocery store eggs this morning, which is NOT my preference. Granted, finding eggs at Aldi (can I just say I love that store, regardless of my fondness for my mega-Kroger) for 48 cents a dozen assuaged that hurt a bit. But I still have the international market quail eggs I need to boil today so I can make Scotch eggs, too. Some of those eggs will just go back in the fridge in the shell against the day I want to peel a couple, halve them, and drop them in a soup.

So if you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em get hungry for some soup, come on up. I’ll stir you one up in a hurry.