Monday, September 14, 2020
Sunday, September 13, 2020
Lemon is my new passion.
We all know how good a glass of lemon water (I like mine warm) is for you first thing in the morning.
But, I am now incorporating lemon zest or juice in almost all foods I prepare! The lemon just brings all the flavors to a higher level.
Recently I served Shrimp and Grits. As I was completing the preparation of the grits, I finished it off with some fresh lemon juice. Wow!!! It truly tasted amazing.
I also made a bechamel for a spinach lasagne and, you guessed it! Added some lemon zest and juice to the sauce and, now, I will never make it without the lemon.
For most of us, this Grandparents Day will be unlike any other.
Many of us make great efforts to see our grandchildren often. We enjoy their company, partake of their activities, know their likes and dislikes, know their adorable idiocycrasies, and immensely enjoy the family time!!
This year, however, is totally different with this Pandemic. Due to travel restrictions, distances, health concerns.....many families have been apart for inordinate amounts of time and will not be able to have a dinner or celebration of this special day with their entire families.
Typically, I would be with the Grands now, helping out with those crazy schedules the first week of school.
I find myself having pangs of jealousy when I see and hear grandparents being able to be with their Grands. I wistfully think of the wonderful times I have had with my own Grands.
Since I am organizing photos in preparation of a photo gallery in the loft, this very well may be contributing to my sadness since I am perusing so many baby photos, first days at school, etc.
In lieu of being together, I am hoping the family can have a celebration via Zoom. (Whatever would we do without this technical marvel?) Of course, I won't be cooking a multi-course meal of favorites for the family, but hopefully I will be able to see and talk to them.
Rather than walk around with a heavy heart, I must focus my energies on productive projects.......like perhaps cleaning out the garage!!!
Sunday, August 2, 2020
We all had to check our calendars if we even wanted to have just coffee with a friend.....gee, am I free? Do I have the time on that particular day?
Then the Pandemic......we were forced to slow down. Most of my friends and acquaintances have
said they are not planning to return to that hectic lifestyle. The old saying "take time to smell the
roses" has resonated with so many of us!
And so, I began to think of the correlation between slowing down and cooking.
While we were in the midst of our chaotic schedules, 30 minute meals were the all-time lifesavers! And, the crockpot!
Words will never express the ease that invention has brought to so many households where the Mother works and must be out of the house early in the morning but wants to provide a hearty,
tasty meal to her family in the evening.
Yes, there is a time and place for all things.
However, if you do have the time, why rush it?
One of the major factors in a good dish is the care in the production, the layers of seasonings, the
time allowed for the flavors to develop.
You just don't get that in a 30 minutes start-to-finish dish, although it has its place, no doubt!
If you are a "foodie" and were contemplating a trip to France or Italy to take classes at a culinary school - do you think they would rush through and have you out the door in one hour?
One of these days, perhaps a Sunday, take the time to prepare a wonderful meal. Light the candle
in the kitchen (it will set a wonderful ambience and also "soak" up any pungent odors), put on some delightful music or a great movie, pour a glass of wine and begin.......to thoroughly enjoy yourself!
Pick a menu you have enjoyed at a restaurant or read about. Don't even look at the clock for your start time, other than to time your cooking the dish! Relax! This should be an experience! One
that you will want to treat yourself to over and over!
Practice your knife skills while preparing the foods ....take your time. No rush!
And, when your dish is complete, set a lovely table......linen napkins, china (if it doesn't match,
all the better!), crystal glassware, along with the candles and truly, truly enjoy and savor each
bite of your creation!!!
Saturday, August 1, 2020
It has been so oppressively hot recently that I did not want to use the oven so I planned meals that I could grill.
One meal was extra thick pork chops, bone-in, with loin. I took the chops out of the fridge and set them on a plate lined with saran wrap on the counter for a good 30 minutes, to get the chill off. I then ground (on very coarse dial) peppercorns all over the surface of the chops. Then I liberally sprinkled kosher salt all over as well. Flipping the chops over, I repeated the seasonings, on the other side.
I turned the gas grill on, just below high. I did not oil or spray the grates. After a “pre-heating”,
I put the chops on the grill, closed the lid and set the timer for 4 minutes.
( At this point, I remove the saran that had the raw meat on and discarded it. Now I can use the same plate for the cooked chops without worrying about contamination or having to get another plate. I do this for all the raw meats and chicken and it is safer and less dishes.)
I flipped the chops over -there should be an easy release - and then set the timer for an additional 4 minutes and closed the lid.
Then out came my trusty thermometer. I wanted the chops to be 130-135 degrees so I could remove them from the grill and place them on a plate. The residual heat will bring them up to 145* and they must rest for five minutes for the juices to settle. Voila! Perfect, every time!!!
These are the thermometers I use...I have three of them:
I test everything with these thermometers. No guessing whatsoever.
For a ribeye steak we recently grilled, I did the exact same procedure as for the pork chops.
Four minutes with lid closed, then a quick flip. If your meat does not have a quick release, it is
not ready so give it another minute or two. Then another four or five minutes and, once again,
a perfectly grilled piece of meat. Some steaks or chops might be thinner or thicker, so depend on the wonderful thermometer!
And, lastly, tonight I grilled burgers. Same steps with letting the meat set out a while and seasoning it quite liberally but with the burgers, I do one more thing. I press my thumb in the middle to make
an indentation. This is termed dimpling. This will ensure the burger retains its shape and juices.
One thing you should never, ever do is press down on a burger with the spatula. Do resist this urge and only flip those burgers once. If you are serving cheeseburgers, put the cheese on the burger at two minutes til done and that will melt the cheese but not overcook the burger. So many cook the burger til well done and then add the cheese which, then of course, has to cook even more.
You know that old saying, “Timing is everything” and it is so very true with grilling.