mamadeb: Writing MamaDeb (Default)
Retail therapy: I now own an electronic food scale (Salton, very pretty, exactly the degree of precision I want, metric/English conversion, automatic tare function and less than half what a similar scale cost in a housewares store) to join with the chinois, the skimmer and the whisk. Plus I have flour and yeast and a container, and I've located my KitchenAid. I will be making sourdough, and with it, bread. The scale is key for this.

Cooking therapy: I made a vegetable stock. This also used the scale, as the mirepoix was determined by weight - two parts celery, one part each carrots and onions. I'll be using the stock tonight - some for the mashed potatoes and some for the sauce I'll use for the chicken breast fillets - fillets I cut off the chicken myself and froze. I feel very proud now.

Except I read the instructions wrong and I used too much celery.

Ah, it still tastes fine, and I'll do better next time.
mamadeb: Writing MamaDeb (Default)
Ashkenazi Orthodox Jews have a saying that is translated as "There is no celebration without meat and wine." It's not a law, it's a custom, and clearly if you do not like either, that would tend to put a damper on the celebration instead of enhancing it. But the saying remains.

As the Purim seudah is a celebratory meal (you know. "They tried to kill us. They failed. Let's eat!" - pretty much the meaning of Purim), we decided it needed meat. But as it had to be eaten no later than midday, the normal yom tov style meal would be a bit much, especially with Shabbat that night. Also, as we were making it at home but taking it somewhere else, it had to be easily transportable.

And, you know. I've been wanting to try a breakfast style casserole since I first read about them.

So. This is a recipe designed to be expanded or contracted according to the number of people served. I made enough for ten, but I'll give the recipe for four.

Purim Casserole )
mamadeb: Writing MamaDeb (Default)
Colds are annoying. Even more annoying is having your second cold in two weeks. I had to pass on my landlady's son's wedding because of this.

Okay, fine. Not a huge loss - judging from the people at the aufruf(*), I wouldn't have known any one at my table, and honestly, I'm not such a friend of Susan that I'd do more than the required dancing with her. And I really don't know Aryeh or his bride at all.

But my nose is doing an impression of a faucet *and* I'm at work. Why? Because if I were at home, I'd be sitting in front of my computer anyway. So I might as well get paid for it. I have two boxes of lotion tissues, so I'll be fine.

Food talk )
mamadeb: Writing MamaDeb (Default)
Wednesday night (no guests):
Pot roast

Thursday Lunch (two guests, in sukkah)
Green beans

Thursday Dinner: at friends

Friday lunch:
Salami and eggs
French fries
(Or leftovers, if enough)

Friday dinner: (no guests)
Herbed chicken
Roasted potatoes

Shabbos lunch (three guests)
Egg salad
Green salad
Herbed chicken
Veggie cholent

Wine and challah for all
mamadeb: Writing MamaDeb (Default)
Yeah, I'm a bit of one. You can blame some on all the food writing I read and the food shows I watch, and you can blame more on the fact that good food just tastes better, and you can blame the rest on my mother.

Not that Mom's a gourmet - she's not. But her spaghetti sauce came from cans of pure&eacut;, not from jars (her gravy came from jars, though), the soup she served for dinner or with dinner came from, at most, a tube of Manishewitz mix, and often from fresh ingredients. The soup she served for lunch came from cans, of course. Okay, her pot roast is made with an envelope of onion soup mix. I said she wasn't a gourmet.

One of the things she never served was one of the suggestions for tonight's dinner (btw, brother-in-law canceled, so it's just for us now) - tuna noodle casserole made with cream of mushroom soup. In fact, the only cream of mushroom soup I remember was from experiments *I* (the budding food snob) made in college. I did get quite good at making white sauce, though.

My mom taught me - mostly. Because one of the other things she never served was boxed mac and cheese. I never tasted boxed mac and cheese until I was an adult - in fact, it was about six years ago, when we visited friends for Shavuot. Which means I've never, ever had Kraft Dinner - only a kosher version. I'm sure it was pretty much identical. Mom's mac and cheese? Made from scratch, with cheese melted into a white sauce (made with her preferred thickener, corn starch.) It was *delicious*, as only comfort food made by mom could be.

Over the years, since my marriage, I've attempted both mac and cheese and a cheesy version of tuna casserole. And while Jonathan always seemed to like them, I hated them. I didn't understand why - I could make a white sauce, no problem. One of the dishes I made that Mom never heard of is salmon wiggle - a white sauce with canned salmon and frozen peas, served over noodles. It comes out beautiful - I really think that if I diluted the sauce more, I'd have a salmon bisque. I make mine with flour, and I use a timer to make sure I cook the roux enough, and it always comes out perfect.

But my cheese sauce? Gritty and nasty, and just unpleasant. And today I finally figured out why.

Because I'm a food snob. And so, I used good cheese. Cheddar and swiss and maybe monterey jack, and none of it worked right. Today, when we shopped for dinner, and Jonathan asked which cheese he should get, I didn't say cheddar. I didn't say monterey jack or a mixture of mozzarella and colby or any of that.

I said, and I quote, "Plastic." Processed cheese food. The type that is almost indistinquishable from the individual wrappings. He bought sixteen ounces of white American cheese food.

And right now, in my oven, is a glass casserole dish, layered with whole wheat macaroni and french cut green beans (thawed in the microwave) and a can of white tuna because it was on top of the pile of tuna cans. And over all of that is a velvety, smooth, creamy, *cheesy* sauce that I just want to eat off my fingers (and on top of that, herbed Japanese panko - an experiment.)

I'm still a food snob. I'm still making my soups from scratch and my spaghetti sauce with paste, and I can't see myself making Wacky Mac, or classic tuna noodle casserole, but I will use the *right* cheese for this job.


Jul. 3rd, 2007 07:51 pm
mamadeb: Writing MamaDeb (Default)
I just made butter. There was this article in the New York Time Magazine about churning one's own butter, and a couple of other foodblogs, all referenced by Michael Ruhlman's blog today.

Those of us who grew up reading books like Little House in the Big Wood learned that churning butter is hard work. Those of us who learned to make our own whipped cream know that it really, really isn't - I know I'm not the only one who, in a moment of inattention, created sweet, vanillay butter. You just need a much smaller amount of cream and an electric device - food processor, stand mixer, hand mixer, or even a rotary eggbeater or a whisk if you want those arm muscles.

I have a dairy hand mixer. It's old, and I haven't actually used it this decade, but it was right to hand. So, I bought heavy cream. The NYT Magazine suggested organic cream, but when I looked at it, it had the same carrageenan as the standard heavy cream and cost more. So. I bought a 1/2 pint of heavy cream. And I let it sit out to get to about 60F (It's purely a guess - my instant read thermometer is fleishig.) And, well, I let it rip. And in about five minutes, it thickened, got to be whipped, made soft peaks, got grainy and broke. In other words, butter. I poured off the buttermilk (delicious) and worked the butter, squeezing out the rest of the butter milk. Now, they said five minutes, but they also used more cream. I squoze until there was no more. It's now sitting in my fridge firming up. No, I did not add salt.

I have no idea what I'm going to do with it - I'm having *chicken* for dinner tonight.

ETA: since I'm NOT fasting today, and dinner isn't even cooking yet, I spread some of *MY* butter on some rye bread. It's sweeter and creamier, but not immensely different than storebought. Next time, I do the culturing thing.
mamadeb: Writing MamaDeb (Default)
Last night, I acceded to my husband's request of several weeks and made fajitas. I make no pretense of authenticity, but these do taste good.
Turkey Fajitas )

Lunch )

And it still feels very weird to put this stuff that *looks* and almost tastes like real sour cream on meat.

Busy, busy

Jul. 4th, 2006 08:34 am
mamadeb: Writing MamaDeb (Default)
So far, as long weekends go, this has Very social. Too social.

Shabbat )

Sunday )

Monday )

And now I'm exhausted and feeling rather socialized out.
mamadeb: Writing MamaDeb (Default)
Wednesday is, of course, Pakua day. While I don't mind coming home to cook dinner, it's often on the late side and I'd rather not. Enter the crockpot.

A while ago, I "invented" a red curry - saute onions in neutral oil, add chicken, curry powder and tomato sauce, simmer until chicken is done, add frozen peas. Serve over rice. Yum.

I was looking through one of my slow cooker cookbooks, and noticed an almost completely identical recipe. So. Cool.

Last night, I chopped and sauted a red onion (what I had in the house) in some safflower oil until it was soft, and put it in the fridge. This morning, I dumped the onion, four or five skinless bone-in chicken thighs and a small can of no-salt-added tomato sauce, plus a good covering of supermarket "hot" curry in my crockpot. I set it on low, weighed the lid down with a measuring cup (it's a slightly older model with a lightweight plasted lid) and that was it.

About twelve or so hours later, when I came home, I put the rice in the rice cooker and added frozen peas to the very dark and rich looking stuff in the crockpot.

It was *delicious*. The chicken was falling off the bone tender, but still moist because I used thighs, and very flavorful. The sauce was rich and caramelized, with the flavors of the curry and the chicken coming through. And so very, very easy.

Then again, I do nothing hard.


Oct. 23rd, 2005 05:37 pm
mamadeb: Writing MamaDeb (Default)
We had our in-laws over for lunch in our sukkah.

Mom, like myself, is Type II diabetic. Unlike me, though, she watches every single "carbo" that passes her lips and tests her blood. So cooking for her means being creative, since she also prefers low fat and low salt. Fortunately, she like things spicy.

I made a variation of a dish she makes herself, called "meat scramble" - ground meat of some kind (usually turkey) mixed with various vegetables. I'm not quite that random.

I diced a couple of yellow onions and a red pepper and saute'd them in safflower oil. I added smushed garlic and 8 oz. of button mushrooms, sliced thin, and then cubed chicken thighs. (I'd forgotten to thaw them, so I defrosted them in the microwave. They were partially cooked but that wasn't a problem here.) I also put in freshly ground pepper. When it looked cooked enough, I added a can of diced tomatoes and then a shot of balsamic vinegar. I served them on whole wheat/quinoa pasta (very tasty, actually.) There was also a green salad and a fruit compote for dessert. Mom only had a few noodles, but that was fine.

We also discussed other things - including her eye problems. She has macular degeneration and it's been awful for her. Laser treatment only helps so much and she needs it every couple of months. But it means she needs larger and larger print to read - and she loves reading. We have the fonts and icons n her computers cranked up, and when she gets her next one, we'll do the same, and we insist she get a 19" flatscreen.

We tested an idea I had about fonts and, well. I was right. A solid, san serif font such as Arial is fine. Times Roman, with its variations in line width, is not. Parts of the letters disappears. She's also reading for context and the shapes of words more, which means unfamiliar words and ALL CAPS and numbers are all even more difficult for her. So when we format her new machine, we'll take care to use Arial or Verdana.


mamadeb: Writing MamaDeb (Default)

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