Saturday, October 31, 2020
Since the start of the Pandemic, I have cooked a lovely meal nearly every single night. (I mean, what else is there to do in isolation after all that cleaning and purging, right?)
I have also taken great pride in not duplicating too many meals during these, geeze Louise, what, almost 8 months now!
As I have mentioned before, I have watched many, many videos of famous chefs, would-be chefs, and wanna-be chefs. ( The latter you must be careful with as some of them do not know a dry measuring cup from a liquid measuring cup or how to "spoon" and not "scoop" flour when baking or how to measure dried herbs and seasonings! Woe to the novice who attempts to follow the wanna-bes!)
What has been quite enjoyable has been researching menus from different eras and discovering many "gems" that we have not enjoyed in a good while. Also thoroughly satisfying has been putting a 2020 twist on many of these menus!
For instance, the other night I prepared Swiss Steak with Mashed Potatoes. Many of you may well remember Swiss Steak from your childhood. It was popular in the 1950"s, made of a cheap, tough cut of meat that would miraculously become a tender "melt in your mouth" joy after baking for a couple of hours. Almost every recipe for Swiss Steak contained tomatoes. I assume that was so there was acidity to further "tenderize" the tough cut of meat. My husband does not like cooked tomatoes so I was faced with a predicament if I wanted to proceed with this particular dish. A mirepoix, beef stock, tomato paste, Marsala wine, Worcestershire and sautéed crimini mushrooms did the trick! After two hours bathed in this mixture I had the sought after tender meat! (and the sauce was lick your plate delicious!)
Chicken and Dumplings, Chicken Soup with Rivels, Ina's Meatloaf and, oh, one disaster!: Swedish Pot Roast......braised in vinegar with brown sugar and cinnamon.....who knew? It was so very, very sweet....my husband told me I did not have to prepare that recipe again!!!
Researching menus has become my "work, project, goal". It is quite interesting to learn where a recipe originates from, how it became popular, what changes can be made to it. The most interesting fact, in my opinion, is how there really are only so many recipes and each culture, country, peoples put their own spin on it to make it their own.
If you are on Facebook, you will see my postings nearly every night of What's on the menu? In this blog, I will continue to post in more detail the menus and sometimes the recipes as well.
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!!!